Here are the usual reasons given for the Louisiana teacher shortage and how to cure it: Sure, teacher salaries are too low and a big boost in teacher salaries in Louisiana would get a few more young people to choose teaching. Unfortunately, the Republicans in the legislature are too tight fisted to allow more than a measly $1,000 raise proposed by Governor Edwards for next year (and that is still not a sure thing). Sure, if the State were to drop standards for teacher certification as is being proposed by the LDOE and some superintendents, that will draw more warm bodies into the teaching field. Maybe providing extra pay for teachers in shortage fields such as math, ELA, science and special education would add a few more desperate workers in those areas.
Those are the quick fixes being considered by the legislature in HB 310. But the real problem causing the present teacher shortage can be summarized with the title of the Aretha Franklin song: R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Unfortunately respect is the last thing the reformers and self appointed bosses of public education are willing to give.
For 16 years now, the reformers have operated on the assumption that the teaching profession is failing and deserves little respect. The power brokers believed they could fix the profession by putting it under the control of a bunch of "elite non-educators" who would demand better performance or else!
Governor Jindal and John White brought education reform on steroids
Generous campaign contributions to legislators from big business and the charter industry keeps these influence groups in charge of education.
Lack of support for teachers in maintaining discipline and preventing classroom disruption is also a major factor in teachers giving up the profession
The new teacher evaluation program called COMPASS, had actually been written by a non-teacher brought in by John White. It was very impractical, took huge chunks of time from teachers and principals, and amounted to a dog and pony show instead of real teaching. Not one penny of Jindal's merit pay system was funded, so many school systems robbed automatic step increases to fund the merit pay, resulting in no overall improvement in average pay. All of this was extremely demoralizing for all teachers.
On Dec. 20, 2013, I posted this article on my blog including a letter written by a teacher who had just resigned along with several other highly respected teachers in Lafayette Parish. It describes the extreme frustration experienced by thousands of teachers all over the state with the extreme disrespect expressed in the Jindal education reforms. Early teacher retirements and resignations exploded. But even more important, teachers warned their own children and close relatives not to go into the so called "education profession". Enrollments in the colleges of education dropped off drastically and are still down by 18% compared to before the reforms.
At first John White was not concerned. He could fill a lot of the vacancies with his TFA favorites. White more recently established a policy that would require a year of internship under the guidance of "experienced" teachers. (Remember those are the people White testified in the legislature were no better than brand new teachers)
Charter schools and voucher schools have not been the magic bullet originally expected. In fact the charters are riddled with scandals, do not help students to perform better, and the students in voucher schools according to this study would have done better on state tests if they had stayed in their public schools.
In 2017, after all the reforms, Louisiana's student test ranking as measured by the national NAEP, fell to its lowest level ever
Unfortunately, We cannot expect the teacher shortage to be repaired under these conditions.