Column One: Teachers

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As the result of a new state law that offers school personnel early-retirement benefits, the Philadelphia public schools could be filling as many as 1,200 teaching positions by September, according to Peter Bent, the district's director of recruitment.

Hundreds of teachers, administrators, and other school workers have expressed interest in the package, which awards a retirement-pay bonus to employees who are at least 55 years old and who have 10 years of experience.

The teachers could be leaving at a time when student enrollment is on the rise in Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest school system, Mr. Bent said.

"It's not clear that we'll replace everyone on a one-to-one basis,'' he added.

Nevertheless, he said, the district has launched a recruitment campaign. As part of the drive, the schools hosted a career conference last month, attracting nearly 800 certified teachers.

A three-year study of about 24,000 teachers in Pennsylvania found that women tend to have a higher level of job satisfaction than men.

Although men and women had some of the the same negative perceptions about aspects of the teaching environment, researchers at Pennsylvania State University's college of education and department of psychology said, "women reported being significantly more satisfied'' over all.

They accepted their job evaluations as more fair and considered changing careers less often than men did, according to the study.

Richard R. Plut, a member of the research team, said the difference between the male and female teachers "is most likely a reflection of cultural factors.''

One possibility is that women are raised to have lower career expectations, Mr. Plut suggested.

In reaction to an increase in class sizes in the state, the New York State United Teachers last month launched a media blitz to educate parents about how students' academic performance is affected by overcrowded classes.

"Limit Class Size--Not Our Kids,'' a $1 million television advertising campaign, was designed to "raise the public awareness about how [budget] cuts hurt'' the schools, said Linda Rosenblatt, the director of communications for the union.

The 30-second spots, scheduled to stop airing this week, coincided with several local school-budget elections around the state, Ms. Rosenblatt explained.

So far, the feedback has been "very positive,'' she added. "This was a very timely kind of campaign.''--J.R.

Vol. 12, Issue 33

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