2023 Legislature: Texas Still Faces a Teacher Workforce Crisis

January 24, 2023  

As more educators leave the profession and fewer students choose teaching as a career, Texas is in and will continue to face a severe shortage of certified teachers willing to teach. Teachers name low pay, excessive workload, increased duties, and workplace culture as some of the reasons they are leaving.

Leading into the 2022-23 school year, some districts reported hundreds of openings for teachers just weeks and days before the school year started. At the beginning of the school year, Houston ISD reported 800 openings. In August, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD still needed to fill 496 teaching positions, and Fort Bend ISD was short 288 teachers at the start of the school year. The problem continues to persist deep into the school year with nearly 300 teacher openings listed on Houston ISD’s careers page in January. A review of other metro areas show Dallas ISD has 375 teacher openings in January, and Austin ISD has more than 250 openings.

77% of Texas teachers have seriously considered leaving

Unfortunately, when so many teachers leave, it results in overcrowded classrooms and potentially cutting programs and classes due to understaffing. Specifically, dual language and special education programs often bear the brunt of staffing shortages where students need those services to succeed academically.

This is a teacher workforce crisis, and the future of Texas is at stake.


Keeping teachers in the classroom is reaching a tipping point. Half of the teachers who entered the profession in 2010 have already left the classroom, and further research also shows half of teachers in Texas are quitting within the first five years of becoming a teacher. Our teacher shortage is not something we can recruit our way out of in the foreseeable future.

Our teacher shortage is not something we can recruit our way out of in the foreseeable future.

As more teachers leave the profession than join it, we also face the need to pay our teachers more. Period. The sad truth is many Texas teachers cannot afford the American dream on a teacher’s salary. 

The purchasing power of a teacher’s salary has not kept up with inflation over the last 10 years. When adjusted to 2021 dollar values, the average base pay for Texas teachers has only increased by $1,800. Poor pay is one of the most contributing factors to teachers leaving the profession according to The 2022 Charles Butt Foundation Texas Teacher Poll. 

Teachers are certified, highly-qualified experts in their field. They should be compensated as such. The reputation for teachers not making a large salary is truly hurting the industry from a recruitment standpoint.

A teacher from Hernandez Middle School in Round Rock ISD lectures at the board in class.
In 2022, 77% of Texas teachers seriously considered leaving the profession. They list low pay, excessive workload, increased duties, and workplace culture among the factors influencing this decision.


Texas spans 268,597 square miles. It truly is one of the most diverse states in the union – and the same holds for our school districts. The needs of one school district can oftentimes be completely different from another just a short drive away. A variety of needs creates the opportunity for a wide variety of solutions and proposed solutions

In the Permian Basin, where another oil boom is taking place, rising housing costs are creating an affordability crisis for our teachers. A lack of affordable housing for teachers in Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD has made it difficult to attract new teachers in the region. When Superintendent Brent Jaco came to PBTISD, he made staff housing a part of the district improvement plan, and now he is overseeing the construction of staff apartment housing with 64 apartment units for teachers using the district’s general funds and not having to utilize a bond package for the project.

Lamesa ISD’s lack of housing also is making it hard to attract and retain teachers, but Lubbock is just 30 minutes north on I-27 and has no lack of housing as the city continues to see housing developments expand south. Lamesa ISD Superintendent Jim Knight and his team created a carpool solution that works for many of his teachers. Every day Lamesa ISD teachers who live in Lubbock meet up and ride together in 15-passenger vans to schools. It saves them gas money and keeps Lamesa ISD staffed with teachers.

Carpools are not exclusive to West Texas, either. Lockhart ISD began implementing a carpool program this school year. The district is offering to pay $10 to employees who live at least 10 miles from Lockhart if they drive with at least one other employee who also lives outside the 10-mile radius.

All of this illustrates the innovative thinking of local leaders, but being creative with existing resources will not create the much-needed long-term change.

Challenging housing issues are not just a rural issue, nor is it the only issue facing our state right now. In order to retain Texas teachers in the classroom, they should be given a realistic work load and also receive higher pay.


In addition to an increase in salary, teachers need to see an improvement in workplace culture. Our teachers’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. 

Teachers desire and deserve respect for their expertise, and their input in decision making that directly impacts their day-to-day work is needed to improve the workplace culture. As school districts continue to implement accelerated learning programs, there is still work to be done to improve their effectiveness. Whether it is reducing required paperwork or overburdensome regulations, listening to teachers on how to best make any needed changes can give educators the voice they are wanting in these decisions.

One solution to improve culture as well as recruitment is helping new teachers reduce or avoid debt through scholarship programs for aspiring educators like the Charles Butt Foundation’s Raising Texas Teachers. Providing a pathway to a meaningful career with little to potentially no student loan debt through scholarship programs like this gives more students a chance to pursue teaching through university certification programs, which require more classroom hours during training than alternative certification programs.

More teachers in Texas are certified through for-profit alternative certification programs than through the traditional multi-year university program. These programs are attractive because of a cheaper price tag and shorter completion timeline. Texas has a number of quality alternative certification programs producing effective, high-quality teachers, however, this shortcut into the profession often results in teachers leaving the profession earlier than those who complete traditional university programs as the research shows teachers are more likely to stay in the field if they are traditionally certified. Increasing the number of classroom hours required for alternative certification programs to be more in line with traditional programs would result in teachers receiving more hands-on training, being better prepared, and potentially staying in the profession for a longer time.

Teachers at Hernandez Middle School in Round Rock ISD meet together.
High-quality mentor programs are an effective way to increase teacher retention and effectiveness.

High-quality mentor programs are research-based methods to improve the workplace for all teachers, and increased funding for these programs can assist in retention of new teachers, regardless of their certification type. New teachers who participate in high-quality mentor programs are more likely to stay in the profession, and research indicates students taught by a teacher participating in a mentor program make more gains in reading and at rates similar to veteran teachers.

Now is the time to improve the working conditions for our teachers in Texas and make progress against the growing teacher workforce crisis. Issues have been brewing in teachers’ workrooms on our campuses for years, and those issues are now at the forefront.

If we do not retain, recruit, and develop a strong teacher workforce, the future of Texas is at stake. A bipartisan effort by our legislators, with input from superintendents, principals, parents, students, and most importantly, teachers, is needed in the 2023 Legislative Session.

It’s time to make sure our teachers are treated as if our future depends on them – because it does.

Raise Your Hand Texas believes the Texas Legislature can make a notable impact on the retention, recruitment, and development of our teachers if they significantly invest in Texas teachers during the 88th Legislative Session. Read our policy recommendations to learn more about how this can impact the future of Texas.

Tags: Teacher Workforce

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