A needed effort to recruit teachers

The American Press

The Calcasieu Parish School Board is joining forces with McNeese State University to implement the new Teach for Calcasieu program aimed at recruiting teachers.

The launch of the program comes nearly two weeks after the university hosted a school district recruitment fair to achieve the same goal. Faye White, McNeese director of student teaching, said at the time of the fair that the economic boom of industry in Southwest Louisiana has led many students to overlook teaching careers.

White said districts and students are mutually dependent on one another. National teacher shortages and fewer education graduates make events like the recruitment fair essential to school district success, she said.

The Teach for Calcasieu program offers 24 tuitionfree credit hours to eligible prospective teachers seeking alternative certification in high-need content areas, said School Board spokeswoman Holly Holland.

Holland said the four qualifications for entering the program include a four-year degree from an accredited university; completion of the Praxis 1 or a composite ACT score of 22; completion of the Praxis Content exam; and be either employed by the School Board or have accepted a teaching position for the upcoming school term.

Holland said the participant must also agree to meet attendance requirements and show acceptable academic performance, schedule and pass additional Praxis exams tied to certification during the school year, and commit to employment for three years in a high-needs school identified by the Calcasieu Parish School Board.

The deadline to apply is June 1.

Those interested can visit www.cpsb.org to learn more about the program and submit an application.

The shortage of teachers around the state is a serious problem. Fewer young people are choosing to go into teaching, and the state should do what it takes to make the profession more attractive and to streamline the process of becoming a teacher.

The other half of the problem is the exodus of experienced teachers, including some who are leaving for jobs that pay better and, often, are less stressful.

It may sound trite to say children are our future, but it’s true. Not only is providing good schools the right thing to do for families and a healthy society; it’s also the smart thing to do to prepare a strong workforce.

The School Board and McNeese are right to take action to get teachers into the classrooms more quickly and we wish them luck in this endeavor.

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