There is a teacher shortage crisis in Alabama

US Senator Doug Jones

By Senator Doug Jones

During the 2017 school year, more than 1,700 Alabama teachers in grades 7-12 were not certified to teach the English, math, social studies, science, or special education classes they were assigned to teach. In fact, in 70 schools in Alabama, 10 percent or more of the teachers are working without full certification. These teacher shortages have been shown to be even worse in rural parts of Alabama, where there are the largest percentages of teachers using emergency or provisional certificates.

And the problem is getting worse. From 2009 to 2015, the number of education majors enrolled in Alabama’s public universities dropped by 19 percent.

That’s why I recently introduced the Classrooms Reflecting Communities Act, which was inspired by a roundtable that I held in August at the University of Montevallo with teachers and administrators about the challenges facing Alabama’s teacher workforce. The bill would authorize competitive grants for schools to establish “Grow Your Own” programs, which recruit diverse teacher candidates from the community and support them as they work to receive a teaching certification.

Fifty-nine school districts in Alabama would be eligible for these grants. The goal is to recruit and retain teachers who have strong local roots and reflect the diversity of their classrooms. Studies have shown that over 60 percent of teachers teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school, and these “Grow Your Own” models focus on cultivating teaching talent in the communities that need it most.

This is so important because great teachers can make a huge difference in lives of the children they teach. We need to do everything we can inspire young people to become teachers, to help schools retain teachers, and to make sure that they have the resources they need in order to be successful. The Classrooms Reflecting Communities Act would be a great step forward.

Comments are closed.