Lubbock ISD represented on Teacher Vacancy Task Force, TEA to add 24 more teachers

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – The Texas Education Agency announced it would expand the Teacher Vacancy Task Force to include 24 additional teachers to balance the perspective with school administrators already named to the group. Lubbock ISD’s Chief Operations Officer Rick Rodriguez, one of the original task force members, said it’s critical to have that teacher perspective.

“I’m absolutely pleased and honored and humbled, quite frankly, to get to represent at least a portion of West Texas on this task force,” Rodriguez told KCBD. “I think a lot of times people forget about us in West Texas.”

Governor Greg Abbott directed the TEA on March 7 to create such a task force to address the teacher shortage in the state. On March 10, the TEA announced its creation and listed 29 members, three of them teachers, and the rest, various district administrators.

On March 15, the TEA expanded its membership to include two dozen more public school teachers.

“It is imperative that we include the insights and recommendations of current classroom teachers as the task force works to identify strong recommendations that can address the staffing shortages facing school systems across Texas,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a press release. “This expansion strengthens the Task Force and includes more perspectives as we work to find far-reaching solutions to these challenges.”

Rodriguez said he hopes to bring his experience of more than two decades in human resources to the task force, along with assessments from Lubbock ISD teachers. He said those would be collected through surveys within the district.

“I encourage all of our teachers to give us the feedback that they want me to then take forward to this task force,” Rodriguez said. “From my perspective, I need to be sure that I’m able to share that information in such a way that is meaningful to the task force. That’s my goal, to make sure that my participation is meaningful and impactful for us here in Lubbock, Texas.”

The focus of the task force should be two-pronged, according to Rodriguez. He said that includes a focus on the teacher candidate pipeline and an understanding of why teachers are leaving the profession.

“What can we do to make sure that on both sides: the exodus, that we taper that off as much as we can, and at the teacher candidate pipeline, that we ensure that pipeline stays healthy enough to support the few that decide to leave the profession when it’s time,” Rodriguez said.

He believes there should also be work done to ramp up the messaging behind the teaching profession, one he said that is vital to our society.

“We have to make sure we take care of our profession and give it its due honor,” Rodriguez said. “The best way to do that is to make sure we protect the integrity of that profession and make sure that people understand the importance of what we’re doing.”

The TEA is taking online submissions of ideas and teachers for the task force. Click here for that form. According to the TEA, the 24 teachers will be added before the next meeting.

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