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Teacher Layoffs Deter Students From Education Field

Teacher Layoffs

First Posted: 04/05/11 11:09 PM ET Updated: 06/05/11 06:12 AM ET

New teacher churn has long been a problem, with almost half of all educators walking out the classroom door after five years. But amid news of increasing layoffs, there's a growing problem: They won't even walk in the door.

Experts are worried that reports of pervasive pink slips are deterring future teachers from entering the teaching profession. The sum of the problem could be a looming teacher shortage as baby boomers retire.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

"It's a very dramatic decline," noted Dale Janssen, executive director of the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. "It's kind of difficult to encourage people to become teachers when every time this time of year they hear about 20,000 pink slips going out."

Brianne Ward of Thousand Oaks, Calif., tells the Los Angeles Times she enrolled at Cal State Northridge to earn her teaching credentials in an accelerated one-year program -- just before learning her sister received a pink slip from her Los Angeles school.

And she's not alone. StudentsFirst.org estimates that at least 160,000 teachers are at risk of losing their jobs this year.

What's more, the majority of the country's states and school districts conduct layoffs using the "last in, first out" method of layoffs, meaning new teachers would be cut before veterans.

In places such as Texas, where budget cuts are sweeping the state, experts are concerned about the effect on would-be teachers, reports KUT radio at the University of Texas at Austin.

"That's one of the things I really worry about," said Ed Fuller, a teacher retention researcher at the University of Texas at Austin's College of Education. "Because I think these cuts are going to send a message to people that education is not a profession to go into."

In some places, that may be the very message young people are receiving. In Minnesota, the number of new teachers entering the school system has dropped by more than half in the past 11 years, the Star Tribune reports. California saw that same decrease -- just between 2008 and 2010, according to the Center for the Future of Teaching & Learning.

Still, young people like Ward are proving to be passionate problem-solvers. She says her sister's pink slip doesn't discourage her, and she's trying to boost her marketability by getting multiple certifications.

"If I don't find something immediately, I'm not going to stop trying. Teaching is what I want to do," she said.

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Filed by Jessica Prois  |