Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

NewsWest 9 Special Report: Teacher Shortage in Basin

There's a teacher shortage in the Permian Basin and some parents and teachers are concerned about the affects on the children.

MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Parents are calling it the 'revolving door of teachers.' They claim they are in one end and out the other. Right now, in both Ector County and Midland ISD, there are more than 300 teacher positions they are working to fill in the next six weeks. While, district officials say this is a common occurrence, as the Basin continues to grow, parents and teachers alike have concerns.

"It's just not right. Not right for the students. Not fair to them."

Rebekah Mcknight, is a kindergarten teacher at Pease Elementary in Ector County. She's been a teacher for four years. Mcknight explained the turnover rate for teachers at schools in the Permian Basin is concerning, especially when it comes to the children's education.

Mcknight says, "Really the struggle comes when you have four different teachers in one classroom during one year. Having that many vacancies within the district makes it hard for the existing teachers but also the students." 

She says, when a child comes into a classroom for the first time in the school year, the first person they see as the teacher is who they attach to. But when there's no consistency in the classroom that leads to less stability for developing young minds. 

Mcknight says, "The child is not getting what they need academically because they have to deal with the emotional aspect of every single time they enter a room, there's that fear of a new teacher standing up there. The students will end up paying for the revolving door that has taken over schools." 

She also adds, developing the relationship with a teacher and their students is extremely important. 

NewsWest 9 spoke to Doctor Bobby Jain who agrees.

Doctor Jain is a child psychiatrist at Texas Tech Physicians of the Permian Basin and has been observing childhood development for more than 10 years.

Dr. Jain says, "I think teachers are very much instrumental in developing the moral and ethical foundation of a child's development. I think the quality of teacher, and consistency of teacher has an overall impact on the child's development."

A 2012 study, published in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, measured the effect teacher absenteeism had on student achievement. They found, "Highly qualified teachers who are absent, and having unqualified substitute teachers who are available or not, does have a direct impact on student's retention of knowledge. In other words, having a highly qualified teacher is better for the classroom learning environment."   

Dr. Jain says, "If that is shaken, if that is not consistent, I think, the performance of students, both academically/behaviorally will suffer."

The Superintendents at Ector County and Midland ISD say, the situation is frustrating. ECISD officials say, there is no question, kids are better off with consistency in the classroom. 

ECISD Superintendent, Tom Crowe, says the district is working through the challenges of hiring, "It's not ideal. The school district is doing the very best they can with what they have available to them."

Doctor Ryder Warren, the Superintendent with Midland ISD, gave NewsWest 9 a statement, saying, "Midland ISD is continuing to hire teachers and we are looking for the best fit in each area to assist students in learning."

The districts are also offering incentives for current and new teachers. In the end, what everyone agrees on, is the student's education is what matters most.

Mcknight says, "Some students fall through the cracks, unfortunately, it happens, and it shouldn't. The women I work with and the men I work with are exceptional and they do what they can for the kids."

Crowe says, "We want people who care about the kids, who want to see kids succeed, who are team players."

Dr. Jain says, "Main stream teachers when they are absent 10 days at most, if they are more than 10 days on average, then there is a significant drop in the child's learning abilities, child's academic performance. If this trend continues, we'll slide further down."  

If you have an interest in becoming a teacher with either Ector County or Midland ISD, and want to make a difference in a child's life, go to the links below: