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Bilingual Teacher Shortage Worsens in Pandemic

Teacher's desk with letter blocks, colored pencils, and a stack of books with an apple on top.

The pre-pandemic shortage of certified bilingual teachers has only gotten worse as we enter the third year of the Coronavirus pandemic.

With over one million English learners in Texas and more than half of the state’s student population identifying as Hispanic, bilingual teachers are more crucial to student success than ever. However, many of those teachers are feeling overworked and burned out. In addition to their regular teaching duties, bilingual instructors often need to translate books and other lesson plans into Spanish themselves, send communications to parents in two languages, and for those teaching both in person and virtually, there is even more work.

Additionally, the average teacher pay, which decreased between 2010 and 2019, does little to attract new teachers to the workforce. Data from the 2021–2022 TASB District Personnel Survey show that just over half of participating districts pay a bilingual stipend to teachers, with a median value of $3,500. Stipends historically remain steady for several years before jumping by a few hundred dollars, in contrast to salaries that are adjusted annually.

A recent report from the University of Houston found:

  • Texas has struggled to fill bilingual teacher positions since 1990.
  • The ratio between students and full-time equivalent (FTE) bilingual/ESL teachers increased from 43.4 students to one FTE teacher in 2010–2011 to 46.3 students to one teacher in 2019–2020.
  • Foreign language and bilingual/ESL are consistently among the subject areas with the highest percentage of substitute teachers.

Additional information on the teacher shortage in Texas can be found in the Texas Tribune's article about the teacher shortage during the pandemic You can also read more in our HRX article Finding Solutions to Educator Shortages.

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Sarah James
Sarah James
Communications Specialist

Sarah James joined HR Services in 2019. Prior to that, she worked at a Central Texas school district for 11 years. She is responsible for managing web content, HR Services articles, HRX newsletter, social media accounts, and marketing efforts.

James has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Concordia University Texas in Austin.

Email Sarah if you have a story idea for the HRX.

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