Teacher shortage short-circuited

With money tight, the New York City Department of Education has issued an interdiction on hiring new teachers from outside. Instead, principals looking to fill faculty gaps will have to look within the system, in particular to teachers who were previously "excessed" as a result of unsatisfactory performance or downsizing. The casualties of this new policy are multiple but, while Teach For America and the NYC Teaching Fellows will only see their corps cut in half (the city presumably still has contractual obligations to these organizations), traditional ed school candidates and career-switchers are completely out of luck. "Suddenly, overnight, I am rethinking my entire career," explains substitute to full-time hopeful Larissa Patel. And she's not alone: many prospective teachers say they never anticipated that the Big Apple would run short on open teaching positions. Only special needs areas, such as bilingual special education and speech therapy, are exempt. But what's most troubling is that this policy seems to run directly counter to the previous practice of merely encouraging principals to hire excessed teachers (the district would pay the difference in salary if an Absent Teacher Reserve teacher was more expensive than a new-hire)--but not forcing them to do so. But since the district pays these excessed teachers full salary despite their limbo status, putting them to work will save the district some cash. In the meantime, it appears that the teacher shortage "crisis" has evaporated overnight.

"For Many Teachers, a Famously Fertile Market Dries Up Overnight," by Javier C. Hernandez, New York Times, May 10, 2009

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