Atlanta districts boost new teacher hiring push
- Hiring teams for Atlanta area school districts are ambitiously seeking new hires, hoping to fill 1,400 open teacher positions before students start returning to school in a few weeks, with some districts boosting salaries and offering bonuses and incentive pay, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- However, some critics are unconcerned that the districts are too dependent on hiring uncertified teachers to close the gaps because fewer college students in Georgia (and nationwide) are deciding against becoming educators — though in many of the districts, test scores have declined or remained flat, critics warn.
- According to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, 12,436 students received teaching certificates in the state during the 2007-2008 school year, whereas the number is now closer to 8,500, but supporters say uncertified teachers can bring invaluable voices into classroom instruction.
Atlanta school districts have likely benefited from the fact that more people are moving to the city during the past 15 years, building a more robust property tax base to increase revenue and giving the impression of a city on the rise. About 416,500 people lived in the city at the turn of the century, according to the U.S. Census, but 2010 Census data indicates the population grew to 420,000, with current estimates at around 472,500 people living in the city limits. With the growing population came a need for more educators, but education officials need to also be concerned about discouraging exam scores. If schools garner poor reputations, parents could flee public schools for a charter or private option, or leave a school district altogether, which could exacerbate funding and equity disparities.
Increased salaries and signing bonuses could entice teachers to enter the profession, and incentive bonuses for difficult schools could fill the gaps that need to be filled in those classrooms — but many worry that without teacher development, mentorship and support, many of these educators, particularly uncertified ones, will flee when faced with the challenge of a resource-strapped school with low assessments. In a recent Education Dive interview, the head of the New Teacher Center bemoaned the fact that many new teachers are placed in the most difficult classrooms without any support, and that it should not be a surprise many leave. District leaders could consider offering incentives not only to newcomers but to experienced educators to take challenging assignments. It could be one method to ensure that all schools have a productive mix of veterans and newcomers.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Aggressive hiring paying off for metro Atlanta school districts