As we say, "WTF?"
After graduating from New Mexico State University in May, 23-year-old Ted Frigillana is teaching geography and world history this fall at Omaha North High School--his pick of five different job offers. Math teacher Michael Tewksbury was wooed by three school systems last summer just halfway through Virginia Commonwealth University's two-year education master's program; he jumped and did his student teaching on the job. Less than a month before starting work at East Burke High in Icard, N.C., newly minted English teacher and East Carolina University grad Lea Mull fielded five recruiting calls from schools "I've never even heard of."I'm obviously doing something wrong.
Sharp young teachers are in a seller's market these days--and not just because of shortages plaguing many parts of the country. While the testing requirements of No Child Left Behind may have received more attention, the federal law is equally clear that all kids deserve fine teachers and that staffing solutions of years past--too many people with subpar credentials or assigned to subjects out of their field--no longer pass muster. By the end of this school year, all teachers of core academic classes must be "highly qualified" in their content area, and administrators are racing to beat the deadline.
With the clock ticking, they're coming up with all the incentives they can muster to lure new grads who meet the law's standards by having majored in their subjects or passed a competency test. Frigillana was drawn to Omaha by the promise of a free master's degree, fully paid health insurance, and job-search help for his wife. Fast-growing Clark County, Nev., sends more than 100 recruiters on the road during the year in search of 2,000-plus hires, dangling relocation bonuses and generous retirement benefits. Mull's district in North Carolina--a state that will need 30,000 teachers over the next three years and produces just 3,500 annually--recruits at university job fairs up and down the eastern seaboard and reels in candidates with signing bonuses and southern hospitality. "We help them apply for their license, help them find places to live," says personnel director Steve Demiter. "I'll find them a significant other if I need to!"