Weekly Column from the Arkansas House of Representatives 3-18-22

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas is a better place today than yesterday because of our teachers.
We cannot thank them enough for their work and the difference they make in our children’s lives.

If you’ve ever thought about making a difference in the classroom, now is the perfect time to act.
The Arkansas Department of Education and Forward Arkansas are highlighting various pathways and financial incentives to become a teacher.

Teach Arkansas is an initiative to increase the number of qualified, certified, and diverse teachers in Arkansas. As part of a rebrand, a new website, TeachArkansas.org, was developed. It provides current and future teachers an easily-accessible hub for career resources.

At the site current teachers can find professional development opportunities to increase their existing skills and income, high school and college students can learn how to enter the teaching profession, and potential career changers can learn about affordable pathways to the classroom. In many cases, teacher candidates can obtain a four-year degree plus teaching license at no cost to them!

One-on-one coaching with professionals trained in guiding current and future teachers through paths to licensure or career advancement also are available at TeachArkansas.org.

Unfortunately, Arkansas has faced a massive shortage of certified teachers for decades. This doesn’t mean groups of students sit, unsupervised, in their classrooms. But it can lead to schools ending certain advanced or specialized courses.
And, most often, they hire teachers who have not met the state’s requirements for certification.

According to a report by The New Teacher Project (TNTP), approximately 4 percent of Arkansas teachers are uncertified, more than double the national average of 1.7 percent. But the severity of the problem varies widely from district to district. Statewide, 30 districts have a workforce that includes at least 10 percent uncertified teachers.
It’s also worth noting that the diversity of the state’s teacher workforce does not reflect the diversity of its students, particularly in districts with the highest certified teacher shortages.

In the 2021 Regular Session, we passed Act 680 which raises the target average salary for teachers to $51,822.

The General Assembly is constantly looking at ways to improve teacher recruiting and retention. TeachArkansas.org will guide you through many of the incentives we’ve initiated over the years. Please share the website to help us recruit the very best for our students.

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