Getting the Elementary Teaching Job You Really Want!

Article excerpt

When Topeka Taylor attended the teacher career fair at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she had no idea she would receive four job offers. Today, Topeka is a second-year elementary teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. Why is it that Taylor had a choice of jobs in a teaching area, elementary education, that is considered to have a surplus of teachers? The answer is multifaceted.

Supply and Demand

Topeka Taylor, who is Black, is part of a shrinking minority-teacher pool in this country. On the one hand, the 1993 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll reported information from the Education Information Branch of the U. S. Department of Education that indicated 86.8 percent of the public school teaching force is White, 8 percent Black, and 5.3 percent `other.' On the other hand, education statisticians reported that the minority student population was 33.3 percent in 1992 and is expected to continue to grow.

The government projects that there will be a need for 1,766,719 elementary teachers alone in this country by the year 2005, up from 1,456,156 in 1992. This projection doesn't include preschool and kindergarten teachers.

Freida Kinney, placement counselor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Mary Johnson, director of career services at Bowie State University, paint a bleak picture for school systems recruiting minority teachers.

Kinney coordinates the Pennsylvania Education Recruiting Consortium (PERC), which is composed of 28 colleges in western Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. She offers some statistics from the 1995 job fair: Of 1,400 registrants, only 24 of 550 elementary education majors (less than 5 percent) were minorities.

Johnson's statistics from Bowie mirror the national picture on college campuses. "Fifty-five school districts visited Bowie to recruit the approximately 30 teacher education majors," says Johnson. "Although they [the school districts] know there aren't that many teacher candidates, they still want to come."

At a recent research committee meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Association for School, College and University Staffing (MAASCUS), John Snyder from Slippery Rock University pointed out a comment that appeared on a survey response that typifies the sentiments of many public school personnel administrators. "I have hundreds of applicants for each job I post. I still cannot find any (or very few) minority teacher candidates," wrote the respondent. In another setting, a similar comment was made by Matthew Britt, certified personnel officer in Loudon County, Virginia, Public Schools. Said Britt. `I am looking across the United States for minority applicants in elementary education. My school system just can't find the number of applicants that we would like to hire."

The disproportionate number of minority teachers to minority students is alarming to many educators. "Minority teachers serve as role models, not only to minority students, but to the total student population," says Stan Schaub, director of staffing in Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Schools. It's important to have on staff minority teachers who understand the cultural backgrounds and differences that minority students bring to school.

The Association for School College and University Staffing (ASCUS) has as part of its mission to provide current information, to educators and students, about the teaching job market. Charles Marshall, executive director of ASCUS, says, "While, in general, opportunities for seeking employment in elementary education are extremely competitive, this is not necessarily indicative for minority candidates Most school districts throughout the country are aggressively striving to enhance the composition of their teaching staffs to reflect more of the community and student body."

The 1994 ASCUS Teacher Supply and Demand In The United States Report stated: "Despite many recruitment efforts at local, state and national levels, the expected number of minority candidates entering teacher education programs continues to remain relatively constant. …