Dallas-Fort Worth In A Hiring War
The long predicted teacher shortage is finally coming to fruition in Texas. The Dallas area is seeing salaries spiking and perks increasing.
For years, we have heard predictions of a teacher shortage looming but there always seem to be enough applications when a position opens--until now.
Teacher Shortage Reaches Crisis Levels
While there may be a surplus of teachers grades K-4, middle school and high school teachers are a different story. Math and science teachers are in short supply and some school districts are contacting teachers already teaching, trying to lure them away. Even English, foreign language, special education and social studies teachers are fewer today than in the past. The most critical shortage is at the high school level.
Higher Salaries as Job Lures
If you are a school district in need of a teacher, how do you fill the spot? Money. Schools are resorting to "stipends" to lure teachers to their school. Higher salaries are also becoming common. Texas is seeing the average starting teacher salary rise toward $40,000. Bilingual teachers in some school districts are receiving $50,000 as a beginning salary.
Teacher Job Fairs
Colleges often have job fairs to assist graduates find a teaching job. K-12 school representatives set up a table while students have resumes in hand and test the waters. Irving School in Dallas proudly displays its salary schedule while passing students review. Often, they return for an interview because Irving’s salary schedule is impressive.
At job fairs, schools may offer a sign on bonus, stipend for special circumstances, and even pay for moving expenses. Students wear badges stating their name, major, BA or MA, bilingual, etc. Schools are scouts for the personal needs of their school and may get quite assertive when necessary. One bilingual student commented that her name was being called and people were pulling on her arm. Karla Zarate, a new first-grade bilingual teacher, said, "People are literally pulling on you and yelling your name. They’re kind of like hawks." [Kathy A. Goolsby and Katherine Leal Unmuth, Dallas Morning News, May 12, 2018]
Using Teacher Stipends
How do stipends work? Shortage areas may have stipends attached to the salary schedule. The beginning salary may be $45,000 but if you are willing to teach math, a $3000 stipend will raise that salary to $48,000. And, if that same teacher is willing to teach in a struggling school, a stipend of $7000 may bring the salary up to $55,000 for a beginning teacher. Being bilingual is an automatic bonus.
Keeping Good Teachers
While this may sound promising, these higher salaries are still not equal to what teachers could make in the private sector working for a corporation. What can school budgets bear? And, what about the morale of the dedicated, veteran teachers earning less?
Richard Kouri, public affairs director with the Texas State Teachers Association says, "Districts must find ways to keep the teachers they’ve hired. Otherwise, it’s a never-ending battle. It’s like trying to fill a swimming pool with a hole in the bottom by adding more water. You have to fix the hole."