HOUSTON – Friday marks one month until the first day of school in Houston, and HISD is looking to fill hundreds of teacher vacancies with long-term substitutes.
According to emails sent by HISD and shared with KPRC 2 by Houston Teachers United, the recruitment started this month, and the goal is to have the substitutes in place on the first day of class.
HISD has not confirmed how many teacher vacancies the district has right now, but they’ve been holding hiring events, and HR said teachers are the district’s highest priority.
“We are actively seeking associate teachers to make sure that every day of the school year, all 185 days, kids have a high-quality person in front of them,” said William Solomon, Executive Director of Talent Acquisition.
According to an email sent by HISD’s Talent Management Team, the district is looking to hire 350 associate teachers, also known as substitutes. The district is offering 10-month contracts, and applicants don’t even need a bachelor’s degree, but they must have at least 48 college credit hours.
“This is totally different,” said Michelle Williams, HISD teacher, and president of the Houston Education Association. Williams said the long-term substitute solution is not new to HISD, but she said this year’s situation is alarming.
“We’ve never had Hattie Mae ask for 350 subs for the beginning of the school year,” said Williams. “We have never seen teachers leave HISD in droves,” she added.
Williams said the state taking over the district has a lot to do with the turnover. The American Federation of Teachers describes the teacher shortage as a national problem that began growing more rapidly after the pandemic and recent political-cultural wars. Districts across the country are looking for ways to attract teachers, just like HISD.
“For those who don’t know, they are waiving certifications right now—so if you don’t have your certification, but you have your degree, you can come on down and get you a job. I just got me one today,” said Nicolas Malone.
He accepted a job as a 5th-grade math teacher in Houston schools Friday afternoon. Malone has a bachelor’s and master’s degree, but he’s not certified to teach yet.
“Of course, our first priority is to look for candidates who already hold a teaching credential or are eligible to obtain that teaching credential. In the event that teachers don’t, we are going to move in to seek waivers for the 2023-24 school year,” said Solomon.
Superintendent Mike Miles said he is aware that there will be bumps in the road, but he said there will be improvements.
“Look, this is the largest wholesale reform program in the nation. It’s one where we didn’t have as much time as anybody would like, so we will teach kids well, but I know there are always going to be problems that carry over and haven’t been solved,” said Miles. “Will we have all the teacher vacancies filled? Probably not in the district, so that’s a matter of concern—will it be better than we did a year ago? Yeah,” said Miles.
According to the email sent to Houston Teachers United, the plan is to have a teacher in every classroom on August 28th.