ATLANTA — A recent survey found one in five teachers is considering leaving the profession because of burnout. It seems no school district, in metro Atlanta and across the state of Georgia, is immune to teacher shortages.
However, a measure in the Georgia General Assembly is offering a solution. HB 385 would apply to public school teachers who have 30 years of experience and have been retired for at least a year. They would be able to return to public school classrooms in Georgia and earn a full teacher's salary plus their pension.
Andy Faraca has nearly 40 years of teaching experience. The retired teacher educated students in Tampa, Fla. and Fulton County Schools. He supports the measure, calling it a no-brainer.
"You're getting a museum, encyclopedia, a library, because they have the knowledge, talent and experience," Faraca said.
Faraca said many companies do similar initiatives and create mentoring programs to bring old talent back and motivate others. He said he would consider returning to the classroom if needed. Faraca said retired teachers are a known quantity, have a history of dealing with kids and have a well-documented track record of their results in the classroom.
State Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Houston County) is one of the bill's sponsors. He said this is part of a larger effort to address a teaching shortage statewide. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has already included teacher pay raises in the state budget and looked to fund education more than in previous years. According to the Georgia Retired Educators Association, there are more than 4,000 teaching positions currently filled by substitutes or unqualified staff.
"Districts are looking for workforce," Blackmon said. "They’re looking for people who are willing to teach and go back into the classroom. The idea is to continue to utilize the years of experience, along with what they've been able to do in those kids' lives over time and put it back into the classroom."
The measure is getting mixed reviews by many older retirees. Frankie Long said the bill would appeal more to younger retirees who have school-aged kids. She fears she may not be able to keep up with advancing technology and potentially more parental control in the classroom. Another measure in the legislature would put guards on the teaching of racism in Georgia schools, and it has the support of Kemp.
“It’s so political," Long said. "Everyone knows so much more about your subject than you do. I’m not going back. There’s nothing there for me. I really think that ship has sailed."
The negatives don't deter Faraca, and the salary doesn't motivate him either. The kids, Faraca said, lie at the center of his calling.
"There has to be an internal motivation, a love, a dedication and caring," Faraca said. "The kids let you know that life is worth living and it's worth going on, because they're the future. They're the hope."