New York teacher shortage ending

Sunday, August 25, 2002

NEW YORK -- More than 8,000 new public school teachers, most of them certified, are expected to begin teaching in September, effectively ending the city's teacher shortage of the past several years.

Officials said many of the new hires were drawn by a pay increase in a recent contract agreement that raised the salary for an entry-level teacher to $39,000 from $31,910.

They also attributed an increase in qualified candidates to the faltering economy and to an alternative route to certification that requires less training.

Officials said as many as 90 percent of this year's new teachers would be certified, compared with only half of those who started in 2001. Those who are not certified must obtain certification by the end of the school year.

The city has struggled to boost the number of certified teachers since the State Board of Regents required that all city teachers be certified by September 2003.

Part of the city's efforts included the New York City Teaching Fellows program, which recruits recent college graduates and professionals in other fields to teach in the city's lowest-performing schools.

The program, which pays for its participants to receive master's degrees in education, is expected to place about 2,000 recruits in city schools this September.

An additional 500 of the more than 8,000 new recruits are from other alternative-route programs, including Teach for America.

Thousands of the new hires attended an orientation ceremony Thursday at Madison Square Garden Theater, at which new Schools Chancellor Joel Klein presided.

"This is my rookie year, and it's your rookie year, too," Klein told the crowd. "I will always remember this class because they started when I started."

New York's public school system has more than one million students and 80,000 teachers. It is twice as big as the nation's second-largest, the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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