DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In Martazia Badger’s second grade class, there are 25 students and they often get pushed around.
“They’re used to wandering around, making room for someone,” Badger said. “Since it’s spread out, hey, enter where you belong.”
For grades four and under, state law sets the limit at 22 students per class, but there are many ways to change that.
Like many districts, Mesquite ISD, where Mrs. Badger was working, and said he had no choice.
School districts may request a waiver.
CBS11 found 23 across North Texas in 2022: Fort Worth, Arlington, Garland, Richardson, Frisco, Denton Duncanville, Northwest, Rockwall, Irving, Burleson, Wylie, Quinlan, Melissa, Lovejoy, Palmer, Whitewright, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, Lipan, Mansfield, and Crowley ISDs.
In many cases, districts said a lack of teachers prevented them from hitting the required numbers.
Garland ISD, which received a waiver for 19 campuses, explained to the Texas Education Agency that “the commissioner found a class size of 22:1 to be a significant problem for the district.”
However, the TEA has yet to reject a district’s request in 2022 to put more children in the classroom. In fact, almost all of the applications were approved the same day they were made because they all met the standard.
In a statement, the department said: “Class size waivers are permitted if the campus does not meet academic obligations.
At Central Elementary in Duncanville ISD, waivers were issued for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, third grade, and fourth grade classes.
“We have an elementary school class that has up to 30 students in the classroom,” said Kathleen Brown, the district’s chief HR officer.
Sometimes, Brown said, that’s the best way for the neighborhood.
“The other side is that the student doesn’t have a teacher or what he needs,” he said.
The Texas House Public Education Committee and the Governor’s Task Force on Teachers are expected to release reports in the coming months that outline ways to address the teacher shortage.
Meanwhile, regions are being creative.
“We’re very happy that the state is doing that, but in Duncanville, we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do today because these students will never come back this year, and we have to meet their needs today,” said Brown.
Duncanville offers scholarships to teachers with more than 22 students and hires teachers who want to continue their certification to help in schools. Competing to pay, though, is more difficult.
“This year is different from the previous years. It seems that every year it is more difficult to find employees. Therefore, this year is not like what we have experienced this year,” said Brown.
Scrolling through the list of districts and cancellations like Duncanville, though, isn’t so obvious.
Mesquite ISD, for example, has none, even in classes like Badger.
It’s what the government calls “a new district.”
“A district of innovation can make a district easier in certain areas,” Mesquite ISD Superintendent Angel Rivera said.
Created by the Texas legislature 8 years ago, the designation allows a district to exempt itself from laws governing, among other things, the length of the school year, if it has authorize all teachers, how class sizes can be managed.
The purpose is to offer, as the name suggests, a new activity.
It’s common knowledge, though, that only four of the 81 North Texas school districts we looked at don’t have them, so it’s impossible to track how many schools across the state have overcrowded classrooms. .
Rivera said that if it wasn’t in the DOI, he would have issued a retraction.
“If it wasn’t for the DOI, I would have filed a lot of waivers this year,” he said.
With so few teachers, Mesquite’s superintendent says students who, like many, are still living through the pandemic, need more attention.
“A lot of lessons are missed. The teachers have a lot of responsibility to cover those gaps, which makes the system stressful,” he said.
Badger said there could be trouble, but he’s focusing on the positive.
“I was upset at first, but I was like, you know what, it could be worse,” he said.
His students are learning to adapt. So, he moves forward, refusing to give up.