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Republican Cuts to Education Cause Hiring of First-Year Teachers to Drop Sharply

by: Shelby Alexander

Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 04:31 PM CST

Job certainty for aspiring educators in Texas has reached record lows. As the Houston Chronicle reports, the number of new teachers hired in Texas dropped sharply over the last four years. Texas schools hired fewer than 15,000 first-year teachers last year, down from 25,000 in 2008.

The Texas Education Agency reported that the 2011-2012 school year was the first in recent history in which public schools in Texas lost more teachers than gained. However, these numbers do not come as a surprise when considering the Texas Republican cuts to education, which slashed $5.4 billion in funding during the 2011 legislative session. District Judge John Dietz has already ruled earlier this year that Texas' school finance system is unconstitutional, and fails to provide an adequate and equal education to children in the state. The trial will be reopened in January to determine if newly passed legislation in 2013 could change the circumstances of the case.

Read more how the Republican cuts to education have drained educators from Texas below the jump.

According to Texas Education Agency data, Texas public schools lost 35,800 teachers through attrition and only 24,871 new teachers were hired. As a result of shrinking public education budgets, schools hired fewer teachers. According to the Texas State Teachers Association, about 11,000 teachers were laid off in 2011. Districts gave hiring priority to experienced teachers who may have been laid off elsewhere. Therefore, recent graduates with degrees in education in Texas have been forced to fight an uphill battle by competing against teachers who already had work experience despite the need for new educators, as the student population in Texas continues to increase.

"Two or three years ago, we saw a definite dip in hiring new graduates," said Melissa Pierson, associate dean of the University of Houston's College of Education.

Gayle Fallon, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers also noted how fewer qualified candidates are on the market than in the past, due to lower salaries for more work. "There are fewer people who want to be teachers," Fallon said. "It used to be you got a lot of respect and didn't get much money. Now, you get not-much money and no respect whatsoever. At that point, why would you do it?"

The article also notes that an improving economy has increased prospects for aspiring teachers just recently. However, the 2013 Legislature only partially restored education funding at $3.4 billion, thanks to leadership from Democrats like Senator Wendy Davis, who were determined to restore equity in state education funding. With Republican leaders continuing to ignore the needs of Texas schoolchildren like Attorney General Greg Abbott, who defended the cuts to public education, it's hard to determine if an increase of teacher hires will be enough to meet the education needs in our state.

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320000 teachers plus 70000 other professionals serving 4.7 million students.

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