On Tuesday [Oct. 23], a day-long summit at the University of Virginia gathered education leaders, policymakers, and researchers to discuss teacher retention in Virginia. The summit was hosted by the Office of the Secretary of Education. WMRA’s Marguerite Gallorini has been following this issue, and has this report.
Here’s the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. James Lane, laying out the issue:
JAMES LANE: I heard that there were about 1,200 teacher vacancies when we started the school year. 90,000 of our 1.2 million students in the Commonwealth are potentially impacted by the teacher shortage.
So how can we retain teachers? One way is better teacher pay. Virginia still lags behind the U.S. average by $8,000. But it’s not just that, says Dr. Jeffrey Smith, President of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents:
JEFFREY SMITH: The other piece that I have heard as superintendent - and I know my colleagues have heard as well - is greater and more autonomy within the classroom, so that teachers can teach and young people can indeed learn. Another area where we need some help and assistance: that's when we look at the licensure program. We heard that today as well: greater flexibility in converting the provisional license to that of the collegiate license in the teaching profession.
Virginia did take a first step this year with House Bill 1125, signed into law in June, which makes it easier for out-of-state teachers to get license reciprocity in Virginia. But at the end of the day, the main problem often goes back to money. In the words of Jim Livingston, President of the Virginia Education Association:
JIM LIVINGSTON: We have to put our money where our mouth is.