LYS Coach, Jeanette Nelson, had the following piece published in the November 15, 2013 issue of the San Antonio Express-News Re: “Looming teacher shortage fails students,” Gloria Padilla, Nov.2: Gloria Padilla is right-on with her assessment of why there is a looming teacher shortage. In addition to her observations, I have seen multiple reasons for the lack of interest in the profession as I travel the country consulting with schools. Teachers are pressured to dedicate instruction to those skills needed to improve student test performance, often short-changing student abilities to become critical thinkers who can analyze and solve problems, while reading and writing at a high level. Legislative mandates for determining requirements for advancing or graduating have been designed and approved by elected officials with little or no experience in teaching and dealing with student behavior. As for curriculum, the past decade has seen many courses added to the curricula, as well as objectives added to each course. Nothing of any consequence has been removed because the state tests cover every aspect of the curriculum. Because of additional course and graduation requirements, many high schools and middle schools have gone to 8-period days with periods averaging 45 minutes. Any athletic coach would scoff at the notion of having only 45 minutes a day to learn and practice new skills. Teaching is not promoted as a career for the brightest students, leaving the profession open for the less qualified. A billboard on Texas highways promotes an alternative teacher certification program by saying, “Want to teach? When can you start?” What an insult to teachers who have spent years learning and practicing the art and science of their craft! As often noted, starting salaries in teaching are among the lowest among professions requiring a college degree. In Texas, the average starting teaching salary is under $35,000 annually. Only eight states offer beginning teachers more than $40,000, mostly in states where the cost of living is much higher than in Texas. Students come to school at all grade levels with increased needs, many them not satisfied at home. The number of non-English speakers, special education students, behavioral-issue students, and students from broken and one-parent families has grown incrementally. Additionally, class-size limits have been raised. Finally, teaching was never considered a dangerous profession. Yet, as the media demonstrate on a daily basis, too many incidents of violence have erupted in schools across this nation. There are professions where danger is anticipated as being part of the job. But teaching? So, as Padilla points out, “Quality instruction is reflected in student achievement. … Just getting students to graduate is not enough.” Devoted and well-qualified teachers would love to do just that. However, too many potential candidates see the problems in schools and make a decision to seek another career. Jeanette Nelson, LYS Coach

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