You’re Perfect, You’re Not Hired

By Elizabeth Rich — August 19, 2009 1 min read
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This spring, the New York City school district imposed a hiring freeze of sorts. Faced with a pool of 1,700 teachers who collect a salary but aren’t in the classroom because of declining school enrollment, school closings, or poor student performance, Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced that only teachers already on the payroll could be considered for teaching jobs, according to the New York Times. Translation: New graduates of the city’s Teaching Fellows program—which recruits career changers for high-need subject areas—need not apply.

One of those teachers, Arah Lewis, 28, reports the Times’ City Room blog, did apply for a job and was almost hired. That is, until the principal of the school that wanted to hire the prospective math teacher explained the freeze prevented her from doing so.

At the annual new-teacher orientation held at a high school on Wednesday, Lewis, who had left her job at Goldman Sachs and turned down a teaching job in Philadelphia in order to join the Teaching Fellows program confronted Chancellor Joel I. Klein.

“I don’t know an organization that would go out and recruit people and expect them to change their lives and then say you can’t work here...There are people here who want to teach and we can’t. It doesn’t make any sense,” she said. Lewis explained she could return to the corporate world, but her calling to teach was greater.

Klein responded sympathetically minus a job offer. “I know the problems and I agree—we have to find a way to fix it.” He asked Lewis to e-mail him and gave her a hug.

This fall, Arah Lewis will be working as a full-time substitute teacher in the city with a reduced salary and no health benefits.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.