Houston area school districts offering bonuses to address teacher shortages worsened by COVID-19

As a surge in COVID-19 cases continues to affect the workforce, some school districts are offering bonuses as incentives for recruitment and retention. 

For example, Conroe ISD is now increasing pay for certified and non-certified substitute teachers by $10 a day, according to their website. Houston ISD meanwhile, says it's paying recruitment and retention bonuses as incentives to attract teachers from neighboring states. 

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Jackie Anderson, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers says small bonuses simply aren't enough. 

"When I was in the classroom you know people used to say, 'Oh teachers teach for the outcome, not for the income. This is not true. That is a myth," Anderson said. "Teaching is a career. We spend a lot of time in college earning degrees, getting certifications, all this professional development. Sure, you have to have a passion, but you're not working for free."


The Houston Federation of Teachers recently conducted a research survey comparing teacher salaries from first-year educators to those with 30 years or more experience. According to their research, districts like Cy-Fair ISD and Clear Creek ISD consistently pay more than HISD. 

"Nobody should expect that you are going to teach and say, 'Oh well, you know, it's okay that we don't get paid. No. That's not okay," Anderson said. "This is a career. Teachers are the backbone of the future."

"I think it’s the pandemic exacerbating the stressors that our teachers are feeling," said Cathy Horn, Director of the University of Houston's Education Research Center and the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education, says their program fast-tracks hands-on experience in the classroom to make sure teachers in training are ready more quickly. 

"We know from research that those kinds of opportunities are not only going to make a teacher be day one ready, but essentially be past year one ready simply by having the preparation that we’ve provided," Horn added. 


Houston ISD says they are now brainstorming innovative ways to recruit and retain qualified teachers to help address the shortage.