State BOE member: Pay hikes needed to address shortage

Published 2:48 am Thursday, February 14, 2019

Alabama must pay educators more to address its teacher shortage, State Board of Education member Jackie Zeigler said Wednesday.

Zeiglar, who represents Covington County on the state board, presented a program on the state’s bicentennial to the Andalusia Study Club, but also addressed questions about education.

The former educator, who began her career as a teacher in Dauphin Island’s one-room schoolhouse, said many critics believe the many roles teachers have to fill detracts young people from entering the field.

“You have to be the health person; the mental health person – and our kids are really sensitive now; the bookkeeper, collecting money; the social worker; and if something happens, the school resource officer,” Zeigler said. “You’re juggling all of that and then someone says, ‘Why aren’t the test scores higher?’ ”

Zeigler said there are only two candidates in the special ed program at Troy University at present.

“They’re reaching out to us,” she said.

“We have to pay teachers more,” she said. “The school board presents a budget to the legislature, and they cut and paste their version. We’ve got to figure it out real fast.”

Teachers also should speak well of their profession, she said. 

She said the board also is working on new standards for all subjects, and is giving much focus to career tech. Educators made a big mistake by trying to push all students to academic programs and to pursue four-year degrees, she said.

Now, she said, there is a push to be technical training back in high schools.

“Welders use some of the highest levels of math to delineate how to build these projects,” she said. “We are seeing kids who perfect these skills walk out with the ability to have an $80,000 job.”