Signs of Life

June 01, 2003 3 min read

While the teacher job market has clearly contracted in many places in the past year, recent news reports show that schools systems around the country are still seeking out talented educators. With many schools facing heightened staffing and academic pressures, there has been a flurry of innovative teacher-recruitment and -training activities. We offer a brief survey of recent reports:

  • Philadelphia School District: Seeking to hire as many 600 new teachers, the Philadelphia district has designed several new recruitment initiatives, including an “information clearinghouse for applicants,” a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article reports. According to a news release from the district, its Teacher Welcome Center provides interview rooms, counseling and computer centers, and personnel support to potential teachers. District officials have also launched the Teacher Ambassador Program, through which current teachers can earn bonuses of between $500 and $1,000 by referring new candidates to the district. Meanwhile, its Corporate to Classroom Transitions program identifies professionals seeking a career change and provides certification in high-need subject areas. Retention efforts include New Teacher Coaches, a program in which veteran teachers provide new teachers with guidance and support. Additional incentives include partnerships with Teach For America, Troops to Teachers, and The New Teacher Project.
  • Los Angeles Unified School District: A recent Los Angeles Times article reports the Los Angeles district is reaping the benefits of other districts’ losses. School officials expect to hire 3,000 teachers for the upcoming school year, among them 300 credentialed teachers who were laid off elsewhere. “It’s a silver lining of the bad news that’s hitting school districts up and down the state,” said Richard Van Der Laan, a spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District. The district also hopes the new hires will help it meet the mandates of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, under which every teacher must be certified by the end of the 2005-06 school year.
  • Boston Public Schools: Intending to give aspiring educators greater hands-on preparation for the realities of teaching in urban classrooms, Boston is preparing to begin what they believe is a first-of-its-kind teacher-training program replicating the medical residency model. The 12-month Boston Teacher Residency program will place prospective teachers in classrooms four days a week under the supervision of a veteran teacher, as well as requiring supplementary coursework. BTR “residents"—to be drawn from both traditional and nontraditional backgrounds—will earn dual certification upon completion of the program, and if they chose to remain in the Boston schools system, will have the residency’s $10,000 tuition costs forgiven. BTR leaders hope to have one third of all district hires coming from the program by school year 2008-09.
  • In Virginia: Several Virginia colleges are making changes in their teacher- prep programs, such as requiring more time student-teaching, to better address student needs, reports a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article. “Both classroom time and practical experience are important for a well- rounded program,” said Brenda Gilman, chair of the teacher-education department at Randolph-Macon College. The program at Randolph-Macon requires students to complete a semester- long student- teaching experience, instead of the typical two eight-week practicums. Another area college offers a program that places its education students in public school classrooms during each semester of college.