It's like they got PhDs…

Apparently the market’s a little tight for teachers:

In the month since Pelham Memorial High School in Westchester County advertised seven teaching jobs, it has been flooded with 3,010 applications from candidates as far away as California. The Port Washington District on Long Island is sorting through 3,620 applications for eight positions — the largest pool the superintendent has seen in his 41-year career.

* * * *

KIPP, another charter school network with 82 schools nationwide, has received 745 applications since January at its seven schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, compared with 385 last year.

At the University of Pennsylvania, most of the 90 aspiring teachers who graduated last weekend are jobless. Many had counted on offers from the Philadelphia public schools but had their interviews canceled this month after the district announced a hiring freeze.

“We’re trying to encourage everyone to hold on,” said Kathy Schultz, an education professor at Penn. “But that’s very difficult because students have taken out loans and want to be assured of a job.”

There’s something outrightly pernicious, even a little disgusting, about the very existence of the phrase “assured of a job.”  Assured by whom, exactly?  And why?  May those words never pass my lips except in mockery.

Welcome to the real world, would-be teachers.  You have to be smarter, brighter, straighter…. better than the next guy if you want to get ahead.  On the bright side: this helps address one contentious issue, though.  Who needs merit pay when you have 3000+ applicants for seven jobs?


  1. michael, i think you took the phrase, “assured of a job” to mean that they think that they should automatically be guaranteed a job just b/c they graduated w/ a teaching degree. . .which is ridiculous. and of course, we always need to make anyone in the teaching profession look ridiculous, right?

    anyway, i think a more accurate interpretation may be just that these students want the assurance of a job — as in, they want to get the call, have an interview and be hired and not have to wonder how they’ll pay the bills. isn’t that what every college graduate wants — teacher or not? is that so unreasonable, to want the assurance of a job after graduation? or is it only ridiculous b/c it was in the context of ed majors wanting a job?

    i think reading entitlement into that statement is a little over the top.

    anyway, i’ve been teaching for 5 years but i want assurance of a job for next fall, too. i’m moving to louisville and am hoping to get into the school district there. . .if i get hired, i’ll have assurance of a job. won’t that be nice?

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    I think you could read it either way.

    But I think it is undeniable that the education system markets itself by saying, “If you don’t have much schooling, you’re pretty much assured of only getting crappy jobs. If you get enough schooling, you are assured of getting a good job. Specifically, if you don’t have a good job, go back to school, take more courses, and at some point, you are just about guaranteed to get a good job.”

    This does lead a lot of people to say, “I took a lot of courses. I got good grades. I deserve a good job.” Maybe even, “For my effort and my sacrifice of time and money, I am entitled to a good job.”

  3. I think it has more to do with being told, as they went in, that there is a shortage of teachers and that they would be in demand. Other majors are singing the same sad song. See, for example, a half dozen other posts this week about “bitter college grads.”

  4. The teacher’s unions have been selling the idea of too few teachers since the MEA took over the NEA and converted it from a professional association to a UAW-with-blackboard. It’s the obvious idea to try to fix in the public mind as a means of justifying ever-higher salary demands.

    No big surprise, plenty of kids trying to decide which career to pursue were attracted by a career that promised job security justified by the seemingly never-ending demand for teachers.

    Well, it’s starting to look like the fan’s been hit.

  5. tim-10-ber says:

    just think if schools had truly evaluated teachers and knew which ones needed to be let go…if colleges of education truly evaluated students and knew which ones are expected to be great teachers…this would be a perfect time to top grade and get out the weaker teachers…

    yes, yes, I know…the flip side is no one truly knows how good those wanting a job to teach truly are…

  6. Ooo..I hear where you’re coming from. Today’s teachers need to be on top of their game – and we should expect no less! However, feeling a little anti-teacher vibe, says the teacher WITH a PhD. Who wouldn’t be worried about a job (in any profession) with a mountain of school loans staring them in the face?

  7. Mark S. says:

    Just more teacher bashing from Joanne.

  8. Location, location, location. While I’m sure there’s is a shortage of teaching jobs for grads entering the system, the locations of the jobs mentioned in this post are superior. Port Washington is an affluent suburb of NYC, located on the beautiful Long Island Sound. The school is high performing and the teachers well compensated. The KIPP schools are in the San Fran area. Enough said.

    FYI, Mark. This was posted by Michael, not Joanne. Get your teacher bashers straight.

  9. The idea that only the very best teachers will be hired simply because there is more competition is not necessarily true. Like any jobs, it’s often who you know that gets you in the door. Also there are plenty of people who talk a good game or have all the right credentials but when they’re actually in the job they might be terrible teachers.

  10. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Being a member of the teaching profession myself, I don’t think that I’m bashing teachers specifically. (Although I suppose I could be warped with self-hate — that’s what a lot of Latinos say when I speak against affirmative action.)

    What I dislike — what I find appalling — is anyone who thinks that they are somehow *owed* support either from the world, from society, or from some faceless force of benevolence. The world is a harsh, nasty place and it is incumbent upon each of us to carve out what living we can for ourselves and those we love.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s teachers, auto workers, DMV employees, people in the military, attorneys, nurse practitioners, authors, computer programmers, Congressmen, or corporate CEOs.

    And Stacy… that’s an excellent point about the places in question.

  11. Michael, I think Julia is right: you’ve misread the statement.

  12. Ex-PhysicsTeacher says:

    I don’t know why anyone thinks that it’s unions that have created the myth of a teacher shortage. What would be in it for them anyway?

    Again, first and foremost, I blame education schools. I initially entered an alt cert program specifically created to address the alleged physics teacher shortage. I was assured that in a short time I would be legally entitled to be hired by public schools, which, due to the “shortage”, would grab me. Didn’t happen. Not to me, nor to hardly any of my cohort. You’d think that the people running the show would have passed on that little stat, but they didn’t. They, of course, had a great deal to gain by hiding it.

    Also, I don’t think that we’ll get better teachers due to this glut because administrators have a very different idea of what a good teacher is than the rest of the sane world.

  13. Also, I don’t think that we’ll get better teachers due to this glut because administrators have a very different idea of what a good teacher is than the rest of the sane world.

    This is depressingly true. Or rather, the interview process focuses on what the interviewers think the interviewee will be like as a colleague, as a fellow person in the department, what kind of extracurriculars he or she can take on. It’s not that they don’t care about whether or not the person is a good teacher, but it never seems to be paramount. It’s kind of assumed that everyone is an equally good teacher just by getting the interview, so the only thing left to decide by is the other stuff.

  14. SuperSub says:

    Don’t throw out the necessity of finding someone who can work well with others. On any given day I have to interact not only with my students but a minumum of 10 different colleagues. Teaching is often a high stress job, and if you pick someone who has trouble playing well with others, it can prevent necessary tasks from being completed.

  15. Yeah, of course, that’s what I was saying, SuperSub.

    Or perhaps your comprehension isn’t really outstanding.

  16. SuperSub says:

    Well, you try having outstanding comprehension at 5:15 AM when you’ve been up for 2 hours with a cranky baby.

    And if you used your outstanding powers of comprehension on my post, I was merely cautioning that interpersonal skills are also an important factor with hiring teachers, or for any other position for that matter.

  17. I have to wonder how much of the shortage of open positions is due to Baby Boomer teachers delaying retirement because of the bad economy. My MIL is a retired teacher and a bunch of her friends stayed on past their eligible retirement age because the values of their homes and stock investments have tanked and they’re not confident about being able to find a part-time “encore” career job.


  1. […] needs merit pay when you have 3000+ applicants for seven jobs?” asks Michael E. Lopez at Joanne Jacobs blog.  A New York Times report notes teachers may be facing “the worst job market since the […]