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Topic: Bidding War for Teachers!
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Bidding War for Teachers!
Posted: Jan 19, 2000 10:51 PM
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From The New York Times, January 7, 2000, p. 1 [late edition/East Coast]

A Bidding War for Teachers Spreads From Coast to Coast

By Jacques Steinberg

Full Text

On Wednesday, only hours after Gov. George E. Pataki asked lawmakers to
subsidize tuition for college students who commit to teach in selected New
York public schools, Gov. Gray Davis of California addressed the
Legislature in Sacramento with what, in effect, amounted to a more
lucrative counteroffer.

California, Governor Davis proposed, should offer candidates who agree to
teach in low-performing schools $10,000 loans for buying a home, $30,000
bonuses for attaining advanced certification and $11,000 to repay college

But even before such incentives can be proffered, the two states -- neither
of which apparently had any idea what the other was planning -- face heavy
competition across the country in their efforts to woo prospective teachers
and to keep good ones from fleeing to other states or professions.

"It's a bidding war," said Richard Mills, the state education commissioner
in New York. "And you can't recruit with rhetoric."

Two years ago, as the nation began to feel the effects of a virtually
unprecedented wave of teacher retirements, Baltimore offered to badly
needed special education teachers starting salaries equivalent to those of
teachers with four years' experience, as well as reduced-rate mortgages and
reimbursement of moving expenses. During the same period, El Paso, Tex.,
lured new math teachers with $2,000 signing bonuses, which it was forced to
do after Dallas began a similar effort.

Such offers have multiplied and intensified in recent months: at least 20
states -- including Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Massachusetts -- have
begun to pay bonuses of up to $6,000 a year, sometimes for several years,
to teachers who pass a new, rigorous national certification test.

New York has traditionally had difficulty keeping pace. The state is among
several that produce thousands of new teachers a year who choose, often for
reasons of quality of academic life or salary, to teach outside the state.

Of the 21,000 students who graduated with teaching certificates from New
York colleges and universities last year, fewer than 7,000 took teaching
jobs in New York, according to Carl Hayden, the chancellor of the Board of
Regents. This movement is happening at a time when the city alone is
seeking to replace nearly 10,000 teachers who have temporary licenses.

Several factors are driving the proposals by New York, California and the
other states.

With tens of thousands of teachers, many of them born in the first years of
the baby boom, becoming eligible for retirement, the nation must recruit
and hire two million new teachers in less than a decade. There is also a
national effort, much of it subsidized by the federal government, to reduce
class sizes, particularly in burgeoning urban school districts.

Meanwhile, the demand for highly skilled teachers has, arguably, never been
greater: new high-stakes tests often link a teacher's job evaluation to
student performance, and new state standards, written or in place in every
state but Iowa, seek to outline what teachers should be teaching, and when.

The need for good teachers has also been affected by the persistence of
flush times, making education more of a public concern than the economy is.
Voters have told pollsters, for example, that improving education is among
their greatest priorities.

And the growth in technology jobs and other employment tied to the Internet
has further sapped the ranks of potential science teachers, among others.

Moreover, Mr. Mills and Mr. Hayden said that women, once the backbone of
the nation's teaching force, now can seek out opportunities in more
lucrative fields once closed to them.

Still, for all the perks states are offering teachers, few politicians have
been willing to take the far more costly step of increasing teachers'
salaries permanently and across the board.

"These are all good things," said Sandra Feldman, a former New York City
elementary school teacher who is president of the American Federation of
Teachers, the nation's second-largest teachers union. "But ultimately the
salaries will have to be raised. You are talking about a need for 250,000
teachers a year for the next 10 years. You are talking about a
full-employment economy where knowledge workers are in great demand. It's
going to take a significant increase in base salaries to attract the
educated people we need to become teachers."

According to figures provided by the union, the average beginning teacher's
salary nationally, at the start of the 1998 school year, was $25,735. That
compared with $42,862 for beginning engineers, $40,920 for new computer
scientists and $33,702 for accountants.

The gap between teachers and those other professions typically widens with
each year of experience.

One of the few officials who has stepped forward to advocate boosting
teachers' base pay is Vice President Al Gore, who said that if elected
president, he would propose federally financed salary increases of up to
$10,000 for veteran teachers willing to serve in the nation's poorest

Governor Pataki's proposal, which came in his sixth annual address to the
Legislature, would provide an annual tuition subsidy of $3,400 -- enough to
cover full tuition at a state university for a state resident, or to reduce
the much higher tuition at private schools -- to those college students who
promise to teach for at least four years in those New York public schools
with teacher shortages. Most of the teachers, presumably, would be placed
in New York City, though few details have been worked out.

The Pataki administration estimated that the proposal would cost the state
$25 million a year, and attract perhaps 50,000 new teachers over the next
10 years. New York City is expected to lose more than half that number,
most to retirement, over that period.

Mr. Pataki, a Republican, also said the state should pay for more than
9,000 uncertified teachers to take the courses they need to become licensed

The sweeteners proposed by Governor Davis of California, a Democrat, would
be even more generous.

Teachers would be eligible for $10,000 home loans that would be forgiven
after they teach in the state's public schools for five years. Those who
teach in schools ranked in the lower half in the state would also have
$11,000 in college loans forgiven if they stay in such schools for five

And $30,000 bonuses would be awarded to California teachers who work in
low-performing schools and who take the courses and pass the tests required
to be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards,
a nonprofit organization that seeks to make the criteria for good teachers
uniform across the country.

Governor Davis did not specify the cost of those proposals, but said he
hoped to devote a significant portion of an expected $3 billion budget
surplus to education.

"To our youth, let me say, there is no higher calling, no greater public
service, no contribution more valued than to join the front lines of the
future in the classroom," Governor Davis said. "This is our generation's
call to arms."
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or
distribution is prohibited without permission.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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