Hiring Teachers in the Recession

By Del Stover

In the weeks before the Pasadena, Calif., school system held its job fair in March, officials put out the word that their primary interest was in teachers certified in high-demand fields: high school math and science, bilingual education, and speech and language therapy.

But that narrow focus did nothing to discourage teachers in search of work. More than 350 showed up for the fair—elementary school teachers, high school English and history teachers, and even noneducators interested in a midlife career change.

“We had a fellow fly from New York just to come to the fair,” says Shelly James, the district’s chief human resources officer.

Given today’s economic crisis—accompanied by budget cuts, hiring freezes, and staff layoffs—teaching jobs are harder to find these days. So it’s not surprising that school officials are seeing teachers and would-be educators flock to job fairs and shower human resource offices with resumes. To a degree, it’s a “buyer’s market” for school districts.

“We’re seeing a lot of districts around us laying off teachers,” says Kaya Henderson, deputy chancellor for the Washington, D.C., school system. “We’re seeing a number of displaced teachers looking for jobs. It’s great for those of us still hiring.”

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