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La. lawmakers, leaders discuss growing teacher certification backlog

Senate Education Committee Chairman Cleo Fields
Senate Education Committee Chairman Cleo Fields

BATON ROUGE, La. - Amid a nationwide and statewide teacher shortage, there’s an unexpected hurdle standing in the way for Louisiana educators who are ready to step up.

State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley told the Senate Education Committee there’s a backlog of more than 7000 teachers waiting to get certified.

“We have a teacher shortage nationwide. It’s nothing against Louisiana, just the nature of the beast, and we have teachers who want to go in the classroom. They’re being bottlenecked, for lack of a better word,” Senate Education Committee Chairman Cleo Fields said.

Field questioned Dr. Brumley during a special meeting Monday, Oct. 10, about the problem to discuss a possible solution.

Brumley pointed to a surge of applications and a lack of staff as the biggest reasons for the backlog.

Brumley says they only have eight people to work through an expected 36,000 applications for the current school year.

“If we’re looking at workforce, we don’t have the workforce. It’s not like I can say, work harder, work faster,” Dr. Brumley said.

Fields asked Brumley why they did not move employees around to ease the backlog or ask the legislature for some additional funding.

Brumley says he was against asking for money because of ongoing cutbacks across other educational departments.

“I think this legislature would have given you any and everything you needed to certify teachers. There’s not a more important thing; there’s not a more important topic. This past session of the legislature than teachers,” Fields said.

Brumley says they have tried a few short-term options, but they need something long-term.

He tells more people that tech upgrades and a new streamlined process could reduce the numbers.

“So, either that has to be solved for, or there have to be new technologies, or it has to be less complex. One of those things has to happen,” Brumley said.

Brumley says they will continue to work on that long-term solution to get as many teachers certified as quickly as possible.

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