Mark Dixon, Avis Williams, J.W. Carpenter, Sen. Doug Jones and Dr. Courtney Bentley dissing teacher retention at roundtable. Photo by Caleb Jones

On Saturday, Aug. 24, Senator Doug Jones, D-Ala, hosted a roundtable discussion in Anna Irvin, which featured educators from across the state.  

The discussion focused on the challenges involved in increasing Alabama’s teacher workforce and how to work on strategies to effectively combat those challenges, as well as how to improve the educational experience for K-12 and college students. 

After opening remarks from UM President John Stewart, Jones began by stressing the importance of teachers’ place in shaping the futures of young people, calling them the “backbones of our society.” 

 “We have to find good people, we have to find qualified people, we have to give these teachers the skills that are necessary to get  there and get in with  those kids, and we have to have the necessary tools to keep them in the profession,” said Jones. 

One of the main challenges addressed by the panel was how schools often have trouble  retaining teachers. In fact, there is a teacher shortage in Alabama and across the country 

The panelists discussed the factors that lead to this, such as teachers having no financial incentive to stay, as many find that a teacher’s salary often isn’t enough to live on.  

They also addressed the issue of the lack of certified teachers, and that because of this, some teachers have been on emergency certification for as much as four years. According to Jones there are currently about 1700 uncertified teachers.