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Recession Boosts Teacher Pool, Accelerated Cert. Programs

Despite massive teacher layoffs in California and Florida, there are some areas of the country where teaching is still considered a recession-proof profession— and, consequently, an attractive option for people hit by corporate downsizing.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Omaha Public Schools usually have 400-500 teaching positions open in the fall, and district officials are expecting just as many for the 2009-10 school year. North Carolina anticipates needing to fill 11,000 positions over the summer. As Wendy Boyer, the V.P. for workforce development at Omaha’s chamber of commerce, said, "There's always going to be a need for educating our children."

It’s this outlook that has victims of company layoffs turning to accelerated teaching programs. Universities such as UNC Greensboro and Omaha’s College of St. Mary offer programs that give new teachers full-licensure in 12-15 months, an appealing offer for people who’ve lost jobs in other less-stable industries. And as the demand for quick entrance into teaching increases, these programs are extending their application deadlines and expanding. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln just announced that it will open its first 14-month teaching degree program in May.

It’s all quite heartening in light of Mathematica’s recent report, saying these alternative pathway teachers are likely to be just as effective as teachers who’ve gone through traditional training (see Stephen's entry below). Could an increase in effective, qualified teachers be a bright spot in our sad economy? It’s probably a moot point if you live in Los Angeles . . .

-Liana Heitin

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