Match game: Teachers, schools meet online

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 Web-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, 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 exper-iencing teacher shortages, and

a recent survey by Recruiting New Teachers 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

boomer-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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