BASTROP, Texas — This week the Texas Education Agency added 24 teachers to its Teacher Vacancy Task Force. The goal is to address staffing issues at public schools across the state.
The TEA announced the formation of the task force in March with 26 superintendents and 2 teachers. Later that month they announced they were expanding to ensure equal representation of teachers and school system administrators.
Valerie Haywood, an ESL teacher at Bastrop ISD, is one of the 24 teachers recently added. At a time when educators are leaving the profession in droves, Haywood said she hopes to help change that.
"I've always loved teaching and learning. I was inspired here. This is my home town of Bastrop ISD," Haywood said.
She began her career seven years ago and she said she has seen first-hand some of the challenges teachers have dealt with for years.
"There's a lot of things that teachers have been facing. It could be compensation in terms of not being paid for the work that they're putting in and being asked to do extra things that we don't have the time to actually do. It's not realistic," Haywood said.
Ovidia Molina, the Texas State Teachers Association president, said the TEA only selecting two teachers the first time around shows her that state leaders aren't listening to their needs.
"How are you going to have a teacher task force without any teachers?," Molina said.
Now she said the TEA is playing catch up.
"We needed solutions yesterday, and the task force is planning to meet for a year," Molina said.
She added that it's a real loss for Texas to see so many educators go.
"We have many educators that are at this point going, this is just too much. I could do it for so long, but the attacks have gotten to be too much and it's just not worth it," Molina said.
Meanwhile, Haywood is looking forward to not only making a difference in the classroom, but for others in her profession as well.
"It's going to take a lot of time. There's no one way to fix where we are in education," Haywood said.
For a full list of the people on the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, click here.
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