Teachers can job shop at new site

Teachers searching for jobs and school districts searching for teachers can now turn to the Internet to find each other.

With a $350,000 grant from the Education Department, a nonprofit organization that works to improve teacher recruiting and retention has launched the National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse, an Internet-based "gateway" to job banks nationwide that list teaching jobs.

The site (www.recruitingteachers.org) was hailed by President Clinton Aug. 26 as a way to "help us alleviate the national teacher shortage and to bring down class size." The president, who in 1998 set a goal of hiring 100,000 new teachers nationwide, said using the Internet to direct teachers to teaching jobs "will transform what has been a hit-or-miss process into a more efficient, effective exchange of information."

The Web Site "is the first of its kind," said Debbie McLean, vice president of Recruiting New Teachers Inc., which launched the site Aug. 26. The site began operation with links to 130 job banks that list teaching jobs, but by Aug. 28, after Clinton touted the site in his weekly radio address, it had received inquiries from 50 more, she said.

Clinton also said he would direct Education Secretary Richard Riley "to notify every school district about this new tool and to provide them with information about how to make the most of it."

The site provides information about the job banks, including whether they charge applicants a fee. Much of the information is aimed at mid-career workers who want a job change, McLean said. "We believe there are a lot of people who want to be teachers who do not know how to get started."

Recruiting New Teachers Inc., based in Belmont, Mass., also advises school districts on how to attract and retain teachers with incentives such as signing bonuses and on-site daycare for teachers' children.

School districts nationwide are experiencing teacher shortages, and a recent survey by Recruiting New Teachers Inc. showed that 38 percent of school districts now recruit online, McLean said.

The teacher shortage is the result of several factors: the tight labor market in general; a growing population of school-age children; and baby-boom era teachers who are beginning to retire in substantial numbers.

So far, about a third of the 100,000 teachers the Clinton administration sought have been hired. "This year, we've asked Congress for funding to reach 50,000," Clinton said. "We've also provided housing discounts for teachers moving to distressed communities and the forgiveness of student loans for those who commit to stay."

The administration's proposed 2001 budget includes $2.75 billion to recruit, train and hire teachers.


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