Calcasieu Federation of Teachers, school board officials debate shortage of teachers

Updated: Oct. 29, 2019 at 6:00 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A recent Facebook post by the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers and School Employees sparked conversation about why teachers are leaving Calcasieu Parish and whether there is a shortage of certified teachers.

The post highlighted the number of teachers who have recently left the school system.

Teri Johnson, president of the federation, says it’s a problem schools have been struggling with for some time.

“It’s not because they don’t like the children, there are other bigger issues that are going on and we just want to help them as best we can because that’s what we do as an organization,” Johnson said.

According to the post, about 200 teachers have left Calcasieu Parish School Board in the last six months.

Terry Collins, coordinator for the office of teacher leader support for Calcasieu schools, says those numbers are normal.

“Having 200 sounds like a big number but when you think about the number of employees that we have here in Calcasieu, 200 is just 7 percent,” Collins said.

Of the 200 mentioned, 50 were retiring.

Also, policy allows the school system to hire teachers still working toward certification - but Collins says some don’t complete that certification in the required time.

“Part of the exiting teachers are teachers that came into the profession with a degree and were working on getting the certification and weren’t able to receive that certification in the time allotted by the state,” she said.

Johnson believes teachers are also leaving the classroom for other reasons.

“Discipline, the principal did not support them, they didn’t feel supported in the classroom,” Johnson said. “One person quit teaching on day three of the school year because there was a fight in her classroom and she didn’t know how to handle it.”

Collins says the parish is working to ensure first year teachers receive the best training and support through the new teacher academy.

“They love that program and a lot of them wish it would continue.”

The school board wants the program to continue, and Johnson agrees it’s working well.

For the 2019-2020 school year, 89.6 percent of Calcasieu teachers are teaching in the subjects in which they are certified. That is an increase of 6 percent from last year.

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