Demand For Elementary Teachers Varies By Location And Specialty

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

February 5, 2009

Elementary school teachers experiencing difficulty securing employment in urban areas might want to set their sights on teaching someplace more rural. Or alternatively, they might consider going into special education.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois is producing thousands more new teachers than public schools are hiring. The subjects which receive the most applicants include English language arts, physical education, and social science.

School officials admitted that sometimes thousands of applicants are reviewed and dismissed before even being interviewed. According to Andy DuRoss, an assistant superintendant, Illinois' Schaumburg-based School District 54 received more than 2,500 applications for approximately 100 positions last year. Glenview's School District 54 reported having 4,300 applications for 74 positions.

The state's Board of Education concluded that last year, 13.5 times more new social science teachers were certified than hired.

Nancy Slavin, chief officer for teacher recruitment in the Chicago Public Schools, noted that Chicago needs special education teachers. And according to a 2008 analysis by the Illinois Department of Education, teachers specializing in bilingual education are still in demand. Other sought-after subject areas include physics, chemistry, and math.

In a related story reflecting the demand for special education, the Hartford Courant reports that new teachers wishing to work in Connecticut public schools may be required to learn to teach special education students and English language learners.

The proposal developed by the state's Department of Education would provide teachers with integrated training in special education as well as in their content area. The change is necessary, say officials, so that teachers will be better equipped to handle the increase in special education students and English language learning students in classrooms.

The proposal would also increase the requirements for teachers who specialize in special education, requiring them to attain a graduate degree and at least two years' teaching experience. Presently, Connecticut special education teachers only require a bachelor's degree and 30 credits in special education training.

In rural areas, teachers continue to be in demand. Cronkite News Service reports that Arizona legislators are considering a student loan-forgiveness program targeted towards those wishing to train as educators in any specialty, in an effort to attract teachers to rural and inner-city schools facing teacher shortages.

The program currently forgives one year of tuition for each year a teacher commits to teach math, science, or special education in Arizona. Rep. David Schapira hopes to expand the legislation to include any specialization, so long as teachers would commit to work in a geographic area determined by the state to have a serious teacher shortage.

"When you get out in the rural areas where I am, there are teacher shortages in every area, not just math and science," said Pat Koury, superintendant of the Hyder School District and president of the Arizona Rural School Association. "We need English teachers too."

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