Teacher Recruitment in the United States
The inception of No Child Left Behind has forced school districts throughout the U.S. to adopt much stricter policies in the hiring and retention of teachers. No longer can a teacher enter a school armed with a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential. Now, they must be “highly qualified” and come equipped with proof of having passed a battery of tests. For this reason, it has become more difficult for some school districts to find qualified teachers.
The path from college to certification to the classroom is long and difficult. Many individuals would rather seek out a less difficult job than teaching. After all, when a teacher is finished with college, a preparation program and the required tests, the salary offered (at most, $46,000 per year) hardly seems worth the effort, nor does it bode well for surviving on one salary, purchasing a home or paying off student loans. For that reason, school districts have had to offer more attractive incentive programs as well as to extend their recruitment efforts to other states. Recruitment efforts vary from simple job fairs to hiring and relocation incentives.
Clark County School District, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, is an example of a district that has gone above and beyond the usual route of recruiting teachers. Not only have they held job fairs and mass interview appointments in Nevada, but they have extended their recruitment efforts to such neighboring states as California and Utah. A prospective teacher can apply online, have a telephone interview with human resources professionals, and mail in all of the applicable employment paperwork. In addition, they boast of home-buying incentives for those teachers willing to relocate. Prospective teachers who do not have a credential need not worry, for they can teach while completing the requirements:
The Alternative Routes to Licensure Program (ARL) is a unique opportunity for an individual to enter a career as an educator. Upon acceptance, initial training, completion of all program requirements, and being selected for a contract, candidates are able to teach in their own classrooms while completing the requirements for full licensure in Nevada.
(Human resources division)
Dr. George Ann Rice is responsible for recruiting nearly 1,900 teachers per year, due to the exponential expansion of Las Vegas and its surrounding suburbs. Local universities only produce 600 teachers per year, and many of those teachers leave the area upon completion of the teacher preparation programs. Anyone can apply to teach for Clark County, due to the programs allowing individuals to teach while working on their credentials. At job fairs, recruiters have resorted to discussing the fantastic Vegas weather as an added incentive. When job seekers apply to teach in Clark County, they receive the red-carpet treatment, with several follow-up calls and e-mails.
If it sounds a bit like stalking, it is nonetheless necessary. To not keep after candidates is to risk losing out to other newly aggressive school districts in the West, including those in Arizona, southern California, and Colorado.
That might explain how Shannon Lahiff of Cleveland raced through the process. The recent graduate spent three months being rejected or ignored by dozens of Ohio school districts with few openings before phoning Clark County on May 10. By that afternoon, Ms. Lahiff had faxed her transcript and had a date on May 15 for a phone interview. Hours after that interview, she had a job offer. “I was very impressed,” she says. (Friess)
On a personal note, I have a friend seeking a job within the Clark County School district. She applied for a username and password in order to fill out an application online. After waiting an extra day to complete the application, she received a phone call asking if she needed any assistance. The district was willing to conduct the first interview over the phone, and she received three follow-up calls thanking her for interviewing with Clark County and reminding her to send all the necessary paperwork. In the month since then, she has continued to receive follow-up calls and e-mails.
Charlotte, North Carolina, is in similar dire need of teachers. Vickie Honeycutt, a recruiter, didn’t let a broken nose caused by an accident stop her from her mission to lure more teachers to her city. Rather, she passed around her business card from her hospital bed and cut her stay short in order to attend her pre-planned job fairs. This year, they are seeing 350 new teachers to fill positions throughout the county. They can offer several incentives, including signing bonuses of $3,000, nurses in every school, mentors for all new teachers, and fifty percent tuition reimbursement. Due to the fact that there aren’t enough teacher candidates in North Carolina, the recruitment effort must extend across the United States (Smith-Arrants). Most districts offer a starting salary of just over $28,000. This is a reasonable salary given the cost of living, but much less than the approximately $45,000 offered in Georgia and California.
The state of Georgia has enlisted similar efforts in order to find qualified and interested teachers, due to a large turnover rate and lack of qualified teachers within the state. Not only are they conducting job fairs within the state of Georgia, but human resources personnel are traveling throughout the United States in order to find additional qualified teachers. The website compares teacher salaries in Georgia to several states throughout the country. Georgia boasts a starting salary of $45,938, a relatively high starting salary considering that the cost of living in Georgia isn’t nearly as high as in California, New York, or Massachusetts (Teach Georgia – home page). Much like Nevada, they also offer an alternative teacher preparation program in which a teacher who hasn’t completed a preparation program can teach (for the full starting salary) while completing the requirements. In order to give potential teachers from out of state an idea of what life in Georgia is like, the web page includes such information as: Georgia facts and figures, a listing of the school districts, and even a link to a site that offers weather information.
The State of New Jersey Department of Education “established a Teacher Recruitment Initiative in 2000”, in recognition and anticipation of losing a third of all teachers to retirement within ten years (Teacher recruitment). In order to recruit the necessary number of teachers, the New Jersey Department of Education is holding job fairs throughout the United States. For example, the month of April finds them in Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Indiana. They boast a Future Educators Association in order to promote the teaching profession to those who might not consider it initially. High school students are targeted as future teachers and are offered guidance through the process of applying for college, entering a teacher preparation program, and finding a job after graduation. The state department of education anticipates massive openings in eight different districts throughout New Jersey.
The State of Maryland has included incentives as a regular part of their teacher recruitment process, in an effort to “to recruit and retain quality teachers for Maryland classrooms” (Teach Maryland incentives). The first incentive is a $2,000 stipend for those teachers who earn professional certification. In addition, the same incentive is offered for advanced certification and degrees. Those teachers who graduate with a 3.5 grade point average and above will receive a $1,000 signing bonus. The additional requirement is that they must commit to a term of three years. Teachers in Maryland can take a $1,500 annual tax credit for those classes, testing and fees required in order to maintain and improve teacher certification. The state of Maryland is committed to bringing back retired teachers as well, eliminating the earnings limitation if they will come back to the classroom.
California is yet another state with an ambitious teacher recruitment and incentive program. Not only do they offer incentives for credentialed teachers in general, but there are further incentives for those teachers who are willing to work in a low income area (which usually means teaching at a Title I school). Areas such as Blythe offer a $5,000 signing and relocation bonus in addition to opportunities to purchase a home. Due to a shortage of special education, math and science teachers, the state of California offers many incentives for those teachers who qualify to fill those positions: they may receive a signing bonus, tuition reimbursement and home-buying assistance, usually in return for a three-year contract. California, regardless of the circumstances, offers the APLE grant, in which up to $11,000 of one’s tuition can be reimbursed for teachers who fill a particular niche, such as math, science or teaching at a Title I school.
On May 23rd, 2006, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education released a memo announcing their intention of actively recruiting qualified math, science and special education teachers. Due to the lack of such teachers, the recruitment effort will include incentives and reimbursements of up to $15,000 to teach at low-performing schools. The incentives include:
1. A one-time $5,000 recruitment incentive paid to newly-assigned (including new hires and transfers) fully credentialed math, science and special education teachers at low-performing schools;
2. A one-time $5,000 retention incentive paid to fully credentialed math, science and special education teachers who remain at these schools for three years through the 2008-09 school year;
3. Up to $5,000 reimbursement for educational expenses paid to these teachers to earn master’s degrees and to encourage credentialed teachers in non-shortage fields to become credentialed in math, science and special education;
In addition to these incentives, a $1,000 recruitment incentive and an annual stipend of $1,000 will be paid to fully credentialed special education teachers with English Learner certification serving at any District school. (LAUSD)
Those who wish to work on the East Coast may be interested in the state of Massachusetts. The Department of Education offers a step-by-step tutorial on finding a teaching job within Massachusetts. There are 370 school districts, but there are general guidelines to finding any teaching job. The first step is to recognize that the recruitment phase lasts from April until August, and that many districts will hire later in the season in order to allow the current teachers an opportunity to move between schools. The site has several suggestions for finding job postings, including local newspapers, local district websites, and the Department of Education. When applying, job seekers should apply through the district rather than the school and to follow up regularly. The hiring process begins with a district interview and later leads to a school site interview.
Massachusetts offers incentives for prospective teachers. First, high school students who intend to teach can earn scholarships and grants in order to pay for their education. College students who have excelled may qualify for a signing bonus in order to grab the best teachers early. The Massachusetts Initiative for New Teachers (MINT) is a preparation program that begins in college and continues with job placement upon graduation.
Current educators are included in the incentives as well. CAP, the Career Advancement Program, is designed for teachers in their first three years of teaching and offers tuition reimbursements and waivers for those who have passed the all parts of the qualifying exams. The teacher recognition program recognizes excellence in teaching and offers rewards for teachers who go above and beyond in order to educate their students. Finally, there are loan forgiveness programs for dedicated teachers. Teachers who arrive from another career will find a variety of incentives, including tuition help and a signing bonus.
In conclusion, there are many incentives available to teachers throughout the United States. School districts and individual departments of education have stepped up their efforts to recruit and retain quality teachers. Because of the challenges presented by No Child Left Behind, there aren’t nearly as many “highly qualified” teachers as needed by school districts throughout the United States. For this reason, those teachers who have met this qualification are in great demand and can expect to be courted by many school districts.
Unfortunately, districts have avoided the obvious means of recruiting quality teachers, such as raising salaries so that getting a teaching job would mean stiff competition with other highly qualified teachers. Many districts are facing recruitment difficulties due to the following facts:
Student enrollments are growing
Many students preparing to teach never enter the classroom
The average teacher is nearing retirement
Poor working conditions make it difficult to retain good teachers
Teachers are not majoring in the high-demand areas
Low salary and lack of incentives causes teacher turnover
The benefit of the teacher recruitment efforts is that qualified teachers will be able to choose a position based not on a lack of options, but a decision to join a district that suits the needs of the teacher.
(2004). Decide if teaching is for you. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Teach California Web site: http://126.96.36.199/decide/af03.html
Friess, S. (2002 May 30). In Vegas, recruiting teachers is a ruthless art. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Christian Science Monitor Web site: http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0530/p01s02-ussc.html
(2006 Sep 24). Human resources division. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Clark County School District Web site: http://ccsd.net/jobs/LLParl.htm
Smith-Arrants, G. (2007 Apr 12). Recruiting teachers means hitting road. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Charlotte Observer Web site: http://www.charlotte.com/408/story/82457.html
(2006). Teacher recruitment. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from State of New Jersey Department of Education Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/education/educators/recruit
(2007). Teach Georgia — home page. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Teach Georgia Web site: http://www.teachgeorgia.org/
(2003). Teach Maryland incentives. Retrieved April 22, 2007, from Maryland State Department of Education Web site: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/certification/certification_branch/teach_md/teach_md_incentives