Growing teacher and nursing shortages have the concern of state lawmakers as another school year heads down the final stretch.

“When I entered Southern University, the largest department at the college was the department of education," pointed out Senate Education Chairman Cleo Fields to Louisiana Radio Network. "Today, the smallest department is the department of education.”

How bad is the teacher shortage? Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley says the state is short about 2,500 certified public school teachers.

via Jefferson Parish School Board
Cade Brumley via Jefferson Parish School Board

So, one way Fields decided to address this was to author a bill that would allow certified teachers who retired before July 1, 2020, to go back to the classroom without losing their state retirement benefits. Now, these retired teachers would not just be able to return to the classroom instantly but would have to wait 1 year before doing so and local school districts would have to identify a critical shortage. Then, of course, the retired teacher would have to be certified in math, science, English language arts, and special education.

Bossier City Senator Barrow Peacock saw this bill as an opportunity to do something similar for the nursing shortage issue across the state.

“They (colleges) need qualified people who can teach our nurses," said Peacock to LRN. "We need nurses not only for education, but for health care too,” said Peacock.

General Election - National Health Service
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

So, Peacock added an amendment to Fields' bill that would allow colleges to also rehire retired nursing instructors over the age of 62 and with at least 30 years of service.

The bill still has one major hurdle before making it to Governor John Bel Edwards' desk for his signature: to pass the Louisiana House.

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