More Considering Teaching As Career Option

By Staff

March 19, 2009

Students and workers switching careers are becoming more interested in teaching as a result of the economic downturn.

The Boston Globe reports that college students who had planned to work in the financial sector are now pursuing opportunities in education. At Harvard University, 14 percent of this year's senior class applied to Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that sends graduates to work in low-income public schools.

"There's always that push to make money and be comfortable, but the financial crisis made me think that there's a lot more in life than going to get that corporate job," said Matthew Clair, a Harvard government major who was quoted in The Globe. He will spend the next two years teaching at a primary school in Atlanta.

"It gave me a good excuse to take some more time off to do what I'm really passionate about," Clair said.

Students said they felt liberated to consider alternative career paths because of the recession and President Barack Obama's call for public service. Teach for America reported a 43 percent increase in applications this year, the most in its 18-year history.

Jay Lundy, a Harvard senior majoring in government, received an offer from Merrill Lynch, but instead accepted a position teaching high school social studies in Harlem or the Bronx for Teach for America. He told The Globe that he would not have considered such a move before the financial meltdown.

In a related article, the Associated Press reports that a growing number of workers are retraining to become educators: Peter Vos from Maryland, who ran an Internet startup, now teaches computer science to middle school students. Jaime McLaughlin from Chicago, who used to do people's taxes, now teaches math to sixth graders. Alisa Salvans from Dallas, who used to be a makeup artist, now teaches high school chemistry.

The article notes that 29,576 people applied to the New Teacher Project this year, an organization which helps people switch from other careers to education. The number reflects a 44 percent increase over last year.

Arne Duncan, Obama's education secretary, said in an interview with the Associated Press that the Obama administration is hoping to dramatically increase the number of teachers by encouraging career-changers into the classroom.

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