Education experts and state agencies are citing a number of reasons for the lack of first-year educators in the state. In the last four years, the number of new teachers in Texas has seen a sharp decline.
According to a new report, Texas had fewer than 15,000 first-year teachers hired last year, which is down from the 25,000 in 2008. So why the decline? Debbie Ratcliffe with the Texas Education Agency said there are a number of reasons for the drop.
"That was largely due to the state budget crisis and the layoffs and the bad economy," Ratcliffe said. "They are attempting to hire more experienced teachers."
Ratcliffe said Texas schools also have fewer new teachers going into the state’s Alternative Certification Program, which had been the largest producers of new teachers. Under that program, people with a bachelor’s degree go back to school to earn a teaching certificate.
Ratcliffe said a lower number of first year teachers also increased class sizes for existing educators, but Clay Robinson with the Texas State Teachers Association, the largest teacher’s union in the state, said there are additional factors to think of.
"There’s about a 50 percent drop off between a first and fifth year teaching and that’s because of pay," Robinson said. "Teachers are paid in Texas about $8,000 below the national average."
Ratcliffe said Texas is adding 60,000-70,000 students each year and she expects the number of first-year teachers will rise to meet the demand.