Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Plight of Young Teachers Today

In Ontario, the various faculties of education are continuing to churn out 7500 new teachers per year, despite the fact that there are very few jobs available. This, along with the selfish practice of retired teachers taking supply and long-term contracts, means lean times for young teachers. Below is another article from the Globe and Mail series dealing with the scourge of retired teachers who won't give up the classroom.

Few openings for young teachers

7,500 more new teachers produced each year than there are retirements, official says

Caroline Alphonso and Kate Hammer

From Monday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, Apr. 19, 2010 4:35AM EDT Last updated on Monday, Apr. 19, 2010 4:36AM EDT

In his search for work, Sid Nurcombe has been forced to cast a wide net – he is contemplating a move to South Korea.

The 27-year-old teachers’ college graduate has been struggling for a year to win one of the highly coveted spots on a school boards’ supply list. Openings are few and far between, and despite applying to two different boards near his parents’ home in Shelburne, Ont., he remains unemployed. While younger teachers on the supply lists aspire to move on to full-time positions, retirees can linger there for years.

“For me, it’s a huge impediment to getting in the system,” said Mr. Nurcombe, who added that he has a “significant” debt and still lives with his parents.

Young graduates need experience to land a full-time job, but supply-teaching opportunities often go to retirees padding their pensions with contribution-free income. Part of the modest income of the young teachers that do make it onto the supply list goes toward a pension plan that’s facing an imbalance: For each beneficiary, there are only 1.5 paying members, and that ratio is expected to decline to 1.2 within the next decade.

“It’s a real morale buster,” said Laura Drexler, a 37-year-old supply teacher who lives in a one-bedroom student apartment in Waterloo, Ont. Despite the broad expertise of three university degrees and her willingness to drive between three school boards to find work, Ms. Drexler earns a quarter of what she could earn full-time.

“There aren’t the jobs out there. There really aren’t,” she said.

Frank McIntyre, manager of human resources at the Ontario College of Teachers, said a number of changes designed to help alleviate a teacher shortage in the early 1990s, have been left unchecked for too long. “Now we’re producing about 7,500 more new teachers than there are retirements every year,” he said. “Nobody has put the brakes on.”

And there’s more at risk than just the livelihoods of aspiring teachers. Annie Kidder, a spokeswoman for the parent group People for Education, said there needs to be a balance between experience and fresh energy in the classroom.

“New teachers bring new ideas, perhaps more energy,” Ms. Kidder said. “They may not be quite so worn.”


Anonymous said...

What do you think of convicted and or admitted sex offenders teaching in Ontario classrooms. Apparently, the pardon system and the failure of the police record check system has allowed many offenders back into Ontario Classrooms. Should these offenders be taking positions that could available to new teachers? One former judge turned teacher was suspended from teaching and fined for objecting to the policy of letting sex offenders into Ontario Classrooms.

E. Sheppard said...

I wonder if this situation is mirrored in the U.S. I know that teachers are most needed here (in the U.S.) in Texas, California, and New York, at least a couple of years ago they were. Also, Louisiana had a shortage for awhile.

I tried teaching for awhile, and now I have my own business. I think new teachers need a lot more support; we have many teachers who quit, and don't go back to teaching.

I was not aware of this problem (too many teachers, too few positions). Thanks for sharing your information here.

Lorne said...

I checked out the links that you supplied and was disgusted both by the fact that the teaching license of the offender was reinstated, and that the 'whistleblower' suffered sanctions for his speaking out.

There is no way that the sex offender should ever have been relicensed to teach, but somehow I am not surprised by the actions of the College of Teachers which, during my teaching days, I felt rarely represented the interests of the profession buy instead quickly became a bloated organization extorting annual fees from teachers for very little benefit.

Thanks for pointing out this injustice.

Lorne said...

Thanks for your information, E. Shepperd. While I realize the situation isn't the same everywhere, my point has always been that unless there is some kind of a teacher shortage, supply work should be left to new teachers as a means to begin establishing themselves. All other things being equal, I have always felt that only in the case of sudden, unanticipated long-term absence by a teacher in the middle of the semester should a retired teacher who knows the course well be allowed to step in for the good of the students and in the interests of continuity.