HOUSTON - Houston Independent School District, the nation’s 7th largest school district, is in need of hundreds of teachers for the quickly approaching school year.
According to their jobs page online, HISD has 729 posted openings for certified teacher positions. This, as classes begin in a little more than a month.
"With instability of who’s going to be teaching them, there’s just no way we can expect these students to perform," said Andrew Dewey from the Houston Federation of Teachers.
On Thursday, we interviewed Lucia Moreno, a former HISD teacher. According to Moreno, she resigned from her elementary school teaching position last February because of COVID-19 concerns.
"I believe in HISD, I really do," said Moreno. "I want HISD to believe in their teachers."
Moreno is one of several teachers to leave HISD because of COVID-19 concerns over the last year.
"A lot of the teachers that resigned, they’re looking [for jobs] in other districts," said Moreno. "I’ve heard they’re calling some teachers back. A lot of them don’t want to come back because of the stress."
HISD hired Millard House as the new superintendent over the summer. House will inherit a district with some unusually low test scores. Last year, 42% of students reportedly failed one or more classes during the first few weeks of school.
"If we can’t fill these over 700 teacher vacancies, we’re going to have a lot of students entering school with a substitute teacher in the room," said Christopher Williams.
Williams has been a high school history teacher with HISD for 12 years. He believes some teachers have left HISD for other nearby school districts for more pay.
"We’ve got a big hole to dig ourselves out of," said Williams. "If the district is serious about making the gains we lost in student achievement, we need a prioritization of teacher pay."
In a letter sent to teachers this summer, HISD announced they’re now offering a new $2,500 recruitment/retention stipend for all teachers.
"If HISD changes their system, I can assure you many teachers would go back," said Moreno.
HISD plans to be back in the classroom 100% this upcoming school year. They’ve also added 15 more days to their school year.