Teaching Column

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C. Emily Feistritzer, the Washington analyst who has decried predictions of a nationwide teacher shortage, last week announced the formation of a computerized national teacher-recruitment service, called Professions in Education.

Ms. Feistritzer, who is director of the National Center for Education Information, a commercial consulting group, will also head the new service.

Her research has evoked a storm of protest from educators during the past few years, by concluding that teachers are already relatively content and well paid compared to other college graduates, and that predictions of a teacher shortage have been grossly exaggerated.

In December, Ms. Feistritzer released a report that found most school systems had been able to hire qualified people for almost all of their teaching vacancies, in part, by drawing on a pool of teacher-college graduates who had been unable to find jobs in the past due to declining school enrollments.

At a press conference last week, she predicted her recruitment service would become a national "clearinghouse'' to help teachers find jobs and to bring other college graduates into the profession.

"Although many experts are predicting a teacher shortage,'' she said, "shifting demographics have in fact created a huge pool of untapped potential teachers.''

Ms. Feistritzer said these include early retirees; certified teachers who previously could not find employment; college graduates currently working in jobs that do not require a college degree; and educated adults in other professions, who would like to teach for a while.

To launch the new service, she unveiled a full-scale marketing effort, including direct mail to school districts and advertising in major newspapers.

The unveiling coincided with the traditional start of the teacher job-hunting season, which began on April 1 in many districts.

Ms. Feistritzer will charge school systems between $500 and $1,500 a year for the service, depending on their size.

Those interested in finding teaching positions will be asked to complete a lengthy questionnaire and return it with a $35 annual fee.

The Metropolitan Life Foundation has awarded grants totaling $172,400 to five universities to work with public elementary and secondary schools to improve teacher-training programs.

The five were selected from a field of about 50 colleges and universities with outstanding teacher-education programs, which were invited to participate in the one-time grant competition.

The grants include:

  • A $35,000 award to Brown University for the establishment of a "mentor-teacher forum,'' intended to enhance teacher training at the university. It will involve secondary-school teachers from Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.
  • A $40,000 award to the City College of the City University of New York to establish a task force at George Washington High School.The task force will study problems at the high school, suggest plans for improvement, and offer a series of school-centered teacher-education courses to encourage change.
  • A $30,000 award to New York University to create a team comprising university faculty members, public-school teachers, and community-agency personnel, which will focus on the problems of 9th graders entering the city's high schools. The team will produce a revised urban secondary-school curriculum.
  • A $40,000 award to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to establish teams that will explore ways to help students stay in school by easing the transitions between elementary, middle, and high school.
  • A $27,400 award to the University of Wisconsin at Madison to create a school-university collaborative that will prepare preservice teachers to work effectively with diverse groups of students in multicultural settings.

Everyone, it seems, wants a hand in reforming teacher education.

The Music Educators National Conference last month released a new model for training teachers, "Music Teacher Education: Partnership and Process (A Report by the Task Force on Music Teacher Education for the Nineties).'' It suggests establishing partnerships between music teachers at the precollegiate and college level to improve the instruction of prospective educators.

It also calls attention to the "unfulfilled promises that are fundamental beliefs of our profession: music for all, and music for a lifetime of understanding.''

For more information, write MENC Publication Sales, 1902 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091, or call (703) 860-4000.

Although teacher salaries in the Southeast have risen steadily over the past four years, the average teacher in that region earns about $10,000 less each year than other college-educated workers in the area.

In fact, the average teacher earns less than most beginning workers with a college degree.

The findings are contained in a new report by the Southeastern Educational Improvement Laboratory, which analyzed census data to determine the earnings of teachers and other college-educated workers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Closing the gap between the salaries of teachers and other college-educated workers in the region would cost roughly $2.3 billion, based on the 10-month contracts currently issued to most teachers. It would cost approximately $2.8 billion if teachers were employed for 12 months a year.

For their salaries to be competitive, beginning teachers working on a 10-month contract would be paid $19,600; those with a bachelor's degree and 20 years of experience would be paid $35,900; and those with 20 years of experience and a master's degree would earn $44,450, according to the report.
--L.O. & B.R.

Vol. 06, Issue 28

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