There are currently hundreds of vacancies for educators in North Texas. Several school districts, including Dallas and Fort Worth, are offering new hire incentives to attract teachers.
Fort Worth ISD Chief Talent Officer Raul Pena said, “Right now, we have 250 teaching vacancies. We have a high need across the district.”
Pena told Fox 4 that the teacher shortage has only gotten worse throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are experiencing unprecedented vacancies in all areas. Part of that was the pandemic that left fear and uncertainty in people’s minds,” he said.
The recruitment manager for Dallas, Diana Castaneda, told Fox 4 there is an urgent need to fill these vacancies.
“The ongoing effort is to ensure no classroom goes without an educator. We are working with the substitute pipeline,” said Castaneda.
Dallas College is working to address the teacher shortage by adding a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education program. This has made Dallas College the first two-year community college in Texas to offer a four-year degree in education.
Robert DeHaas, Vice Provost of the Dallas College School of Education, said the need for teachers contributed to the school’s decision.
“One of the reasons we chose to pursue education for a bachelor’s degree is because there is such huge demand for high-quality early childhood educators,” DeHaas explained. “Our region is short today 4,300 early childhood educators. That means children from birth to third grade don’t have access to a high-quality teacher.”
Between 750 and 1,000 students are expected to graduate from the bachelor’s program each year.
The teacher shortage is also affecting child care centers and nonprofits, including those geared toward special needs students, according to NBC 5.
The Dallas-based nonprofit Bryan’s House is one of the organizations being impacted by the shortage. CEO Abigail Erickson-Torres told NBC they are down four teachers and two assistants, which leads to 30 empty seats for potential students.
“When we reopened back in August of this year, we thought we wouldn’t have any problem finding teachers,” said Erickson-Torres. “Teachers, they’ve had such a rough time the last two years, going back into the classroom might not be their first choice.”
According to NBC, Bryan’s House works with special needs children from infants to age five. The nonprofit provides specialized care and therapies geared for each individual child’s needs.
NBC called it a “one-stop-shop” for at-risk families with special needs children.
Classrooms in Bryan’s House and other nonprofits and schools have remained empty throughout the year.
“We cannot wait, these children need an early intervention,” Erickson-Torres told NBC.
She said retired teachers would likely be a good fit for Bryan’s House.
“The teachers that we need have to understand the depths and breadth of our services, and they will fall in love with Bryan’s House,” said Erickson-Torres.
One parent who spoke to NBC 5, KeAira Perry, said, “Special education teachers are angels, right?”