Newly minted teachers face difficult job market
During the six months that Ben Keller searched for a teaching job, he sent out hundreds of applications and got one interview.
"I was in the process of applying to other states, like Florida, because I couldn't even get an interview," said Keller, 30, of Penn Hills, who has a certification in secondary English.
Then he landed a position last month with Commonwealth Connections Academy, a cyber charter school with an office in Seven Fields.
Some teachers can spend up to two years as a substitute before they're hired full-time, experts say.
Many Pennsylvania universities offer teaching certification, so the state typically produces more teachers than are needed. And, as school districts lay off teachers or leave positions unfilled to cope with funding cuts, job prospects for teachers are grim.
Most universities encourage incoming students to get dual certification or choose a minor to make themselves more marketable.
"I'm very nervous because I'm going to be graduating right in the midst of jobs not being available," said Jennifer Lentz, 20, of Shaler, a junior at Carlow University seeking dual certification in early childhood and special education. "But I'm optimistic because I'm dual majoring."
Those who will have the easiest time finding jobs are people with certification in math, science, a foreign language or special education, said Alan Lesgold, dean of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.
"Those are people who aren't struggling to find jobs even now," he said.
The state Department of Labor and Industry projects about 4,700 teaching job openings per year statewide. State employment data, school enrollment projections and experts in the field indicate that the job outlook will improve in four to five years.
"The group (of students) coming in for fall 2012 will need four years to get out of school. I see that as an advantage because I can't see the downslide lasting more than six years, and we're in the second year of that downturn right now," said Darlene Marnich, education department chairwoman at Point Park University.
Western Pennsylvania school districts laid off nearly 650 teachers and didn't fill about 570 empty teaching positions last summer, according to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
Pittsburgh Public Schools, which operates on a calendar year budget cycle, adopted a 2012 spending plan that eliminates 300 teaching positions.
Statewide, schools laid off nearly 1,700 teachers and did not fill 1,800 jobs in 2011-12, according to a survey of 294 of Pennsylvania's 500 districts.
"It doesn't look good for us, but it doesn't change how hard we work in our course work or in our student teaching," said Erin Colbert, 30, of Observatory Hill, a senior earning a certification in elementary and special education at Carlow University.
In Western Pennsylvania, about two-thirds of the anticipated 830 annual job openings will occur because of retirements or people leaving jobs for other reasons, according to the state Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.
The population of school-aged children in the area is expected to increase by 1 percent, to 419,700, between 2015 and 2030, according to a Pennsylvania State Data Center analysis based on 2000 Census data. State Department of Education data show enrollment increasing by about 5 percent, from 1.737 million students in 2012-13 to 1.824 million in 2016-17.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police officer fatally shot in New Florence; suspect in custody
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- Police arrest man believed to have killed officer
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Steelers find success vs. NFC
- Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
- Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
- Thomas Jefferson uses defense, running game to capture WPIAL title
- Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
- Woman dies after bleeding on sidewalk outside Carrick pizzeria
- Steelers remain cautious of Seattle QB Wilson on ground, through air