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State rep. offers plan to combat teacher shortage crisis

The executive director for the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association says staff shortages in schools need to be a top priority.
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 4:57 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rodney Watson has held multiple positions in education for more than 30 years, serving every role from teacher, to supervisor, and state employee to superintendent.

Watson is now the executive director for the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association and says staff shortages in schools need to be a top priority. According to Watson, last year, because of the pandemic, we saw more teachers retire than ever before.

RELATED: Louisiana’s classroom teacher shortage is growing worse, report says

“And I think we’re seeing fewer teachers going into the profession. Fewer colleges of education producing the number of teachers we need,” said Watson.

Republican State Representative, Rick Edmonds, has proposed a plan to bring relief to schools by bringing retired teachers back into the classroom. His plan, raising the pay rates to an additional 50% of what they were making before retiring. Right now, the offer stands at 25% on top of their final salary. The question is will it be enough?

“As an individual and former superintendent, I would say we need to look at multiple ways to get teachers back. We get calls every day from teachers; some don’t want to go back to work. They’re tired, they’ve put their years in,” Watson explained. “Others, they need to go back to work because they need the compensation. So, I would say that theoretically hopefully by raising this cap, you’ll be able to entice some teachers to come back help address that problem.”

Watson says at the very least it will help keep those who decided to come back to work in the classroom longer. But it’s unclear whether money will be enough. With many teachers retiring due to technology barriers with remote learning or hybrid classes or health risks.

“Getting a retiree to come back to work is the same issue as getting a teacher to come to work at all. And so, I think it’s going to be that individual saying, am I comfortable with the circumstances, is the money enough, am I getting enough support and training to do it. And it comes down to that individual deciding is that enough of an incentive for me to come back to work,” Watson continued.

There is a three-year expiration date on this bill so if it passes it will only be a temporary solution.

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