A recent report by a State task force indicates that the number of people enrolled in teacher preparation programs has dropped by 30 percent, from 17,898 teacher candidates in 2011-12 to 12,597 in 2020-21.

Of course, this is all happening as New Orleans and the rest of the state, for that matter, struggle with an overall shortage of teachers. 

As we understand it, the 17-member Teacher Recruitment, Recovery and Retention Task Force has been authorized by the state legislature to conduct a two-year study to address a growing teacher shortage that is making it increasingly harder for schools across Louisiana to fill teaching positions.

So wait, state lawmakers really need two years to study this? How much is this task force costing? Well, whatever it is, they could have saved that money and time. We could have told them that there is a shortage of people interested in becoming teachers in Louisiana. And we could have told them why — for free and in less than five minutes.

If this isn’t a “no-duh” moment, we don’t no what is. Why lawmakers in Baton Rouge actually need to “study” this is the real mystery worthy of a task force. 

You see, this is what happens when you summarily and without cause fire more than 7000 veteran educators in an entire school district to make away for a reform movement that has shown time and time again that it has failed. 

This is what happens when you replace that veteran force of educators with Teach for America recruits for a two-year tour of duty who then leave after they get their student loans repaid. Let’s face it, why major in education and go through all of the trouble of becoming a highly qualified, certified teacher when you can be handed a classroom of students after some five week “pre-service” training program?

This is what happens when an entire state education department and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have been all but taken over by the same failed reform movement.

This is what happens when you have an all-charter school system in the third largest parish in the state; and the quasi-private schools operating within that system discourage their teaching staff from forming or joining unions.

This is what happens when your state ranks in the bottom ten for teacher pay when compared to the rest of the country.

This is what happens when colleges and universities across the state are forced to shutdown their education programs because they can no longer justify the costs as fewer college students want to major in education because of low pay and well, why bother when, apparently, a five-week training program will do. 

So yeah, how about we dismantle that task force, abandon the failed reforms, stop selling our schools and our children to the highest bidders and settle for nothing less than highly qualified, and certified educators for our students and then pay those teachers what they are worth and give them and EVERY school the resources they need.

See there, we even solved the problem with time to spare.

You can thank us later.

The New Orleans Tribune

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