Students are back in class, but some of them haven’t met the person who will be teaching them this school year.
More than 50 teaching positions remain open across Acadiana.
Only Evangeline and St. Martin parishes have teachers in every classroom. According to their websites, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes need nearly two dozen teachers each.
That shortage isn’t limited to our area alone, and the problem appears to be that less students want to become teachers.
”The numbers in colleges of ed and teacher prep have been dwindling over the last eight to 10 years,” said Dr. Nathan Roberts is the Dean of the College of Education at UL Lafayette. “The number that we’re producing don’t even come close to being able to fill the needs that are within the state. He sees first hand why the program has gone from an enrollment of 1400 students who want to be teachers to 900 today.
The trend started when the legislature made changes in terms of teacher tenure and the requirements of teachers and all the accountability within the teaching profession.”
Once students do graduate with a teaching certification, Dr. Roberts says the pressure and lack of support push many of them out of the classroom.
“Right now, they’re walking into schools that don’t have good facilities, they have a lack of supplies,” Roberts said. “No one would want to be a fireman without a fire truck, a police officer without a police car, you put a surgeon in there with no tools, they can’t do the job that they want to do and if teachers had the resources and the ability to teach they’d be the happiest people in the world.”
Figuring out the most effective teacher accountability presents a challenge, but Roberts believes the current method may not be the best way to measure success.
”In the old days with a high school diploma you could function in society. They taught you all those little pieces plus math and science and others. Today, the only thing that matter is can you pass the test and get an appropriate score.”
So what is the university doing to draw in students who want to be teachers in the current educational climate?
“What we try to do is encourage them that teachers can change lives. Doctors save lives, attorneys represent people, but teachers change it all and it’s a great profession that has wonderful benefits that ties in with the salary.”
Dr. Roberts explained that UL Lafayette does offer alternative certification options. If someone has a degree, parishes may hire them to teach while they work toward becoming certified.
To find out what teaching jobs are available across the state, visit teachlouisiana.net.