State of Alabama works to keep consistency in the classroom
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) – During a nationwide teacher shortage, retention in school districts is crucial.
“You need that expertise in the classroom,” says Rhonda Hicks with the Alabama Education Association. “Not everyone is a born teacher. Being a teacher is a calling.”
Changes are being made in an attempt to keep consistency in Alabama’s classrooms, a pay raise being the biggest.
dr Eric Mackey, State Superintendent expresses, “The legislator this year did a big boost for us in doing the 4% pay raise across the board, and then they did additional pay increase for folks late in career, which now puts us more competitive with the private sector and makes us much more competitive with other states in the southeast.”
Providing teachers with resources like mentoring programs and strong leadership is a top priority for the state.
“I’ve been a school principal myself, and I know that you have to have a strong principal who really can help those first, second, third year teachers manage a classroom, learn to manage a classroom, learn to manage their time, and learn to manage parents,” explains Mackey. “What we do know is that most people, if they can make it three to five years, then they’ll probably make teaching a career.”
The Alabama Education Association worked with the legislator to now allow new teachers under “tier two” to keep their sick days, which is an added benefit.
“Previously it was use or lose, so that will keep employees in the classroom if they were hired in under tier two,” explains Hicks. “They also will be able to retire with 30 years full benefits now.”
Right now, State Superintendent Dr. Mackey’s biggest concern is filling one specific position.
“Nothing worries me more right now than the lack of special education teachers,” says Mackey. “We have some really good ones out there, but there are just not enough of them.”
Overall, he’s optimistic positions will be filled over the summer, but knows challenges remain.
Mackey finishes, “We don’t have all the answers yet, and I think we’ll continue to discuss that over the next two to three months to say what are some other moves we can make to incent people to become classroom teachers.”
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