Hiring 100,000 Good Teachers Won't Be Easy
November 19, 1999
President Clinton has successfully argued for making class size reduction a national priority, say observers. But hiring quality educators is far from a simple proposition once it gets to the local level. If schools hire new teachers under the class-size reduction plan, where will the extra classrooms come from? And where are the skilled applicants willing to teach in urban or remote locations?
These questions puzzle educators, even though they welcome the president's bid for an army of 100,000 extra teachers in the next five years.
- The first round of money -- $1.2 billion -- was doled out in July. The awards varied widely.
- Most of the nation's 16,000 school districts received money.
- Big, urban districts got tens of millions.
- The smallest or the wealthiest only got a few hundred dollars.
A district that receives only a few thousand in new-teacher funds has to make up the difference -- often on an already tight budget. Furthermore some officials worry about having enough classrooms to accommodate new teachers -- or about having enough classroom space to accommodate computers.
Also, many teacher candidates or new employees are new to urban areas, and they need assistance in teaching and working with children in areas with high concentrations of poverty.
Last week Congressional leaders agreed to a budget deal offering an additional $1.3 billion and increasing the percentage of funds that could be used for training from 15 percent to 25 percent. Even in districts with enough room and skilled hires to reduce average class sizes, administrators still face the uncertainly of a lasting commitment: The agreement fund Clinton's five-year proposal for just one more year.
Source: Anjetta McQueen, "Hiring Good Teachers Won't Be Easy," Associated Press, November 12, 1999.
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