19 August 2005

In with the New

We will have twelve new certificated staff members in my building this year. There are 69 certs (teachers, librarians, counselors, etc.) in the building, so twelve is a rather significantly large number.

I suppose we'd better get used to such a large influx of "new blood." According to a recent article in the New York Times (id: bugmenotnyt2005; password: june2005), 40% of current public school teachers (and half of all high school staff) plan to be gone from the classroom within the next five years.

Retirement will be the primary reason. Some will be teachers who are leaving after a lifetime in the classroom. "The proportion of teachers with at least 25 years in the classroom has more than doubled in the past 15 years, from 12 percent to 27 percent." But many others will be "second career teachers" who didn't start until they were in their 40's and are now getting close to retirement age.

Another reason is simply burnout. The demands of teaching are becoming ever greater. It's too much to expect that people will make a 30+ year career out of doing this job.

Where will we get enough replacements? This question scares me a little---although it doesn't seem to strike any fear into the author of the article. It's true that we are continuing to get more "second career teachers" into the profession. But enough to fill the positions of half of every high school? And fewer youngsters are leaving college with a teaching certificate in their hands. Meanwhile, we're losing teachers with a wealth of knowledge and experience about their craft.

Interviews are on Monday for the math/science position at my school. I have heard that there are four candidates who look promising. This is better than none, but I remember when we had trouble holding our lists for interviews down to eight because the pool was so rich. I'm hoping that we won't look back with fond memories of the days when we had four. But with so many jobs in the future to fill---especially in the areas of math and science---we may be doing just that.

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