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Reserve teacher list exceeds openings

September 14, 2009 2:57:25 PM PDT
With the new school year in full swing, there are still more than 1,000 open teaching positions. And there are more than enough teachers who want to work and have experience. So why aren't they being put in the classroom? At least part of the answer to why so many veteran teachers are unassigned apparently involves the economy and smaller school budgets. For some, it has nothing to with their desire to teach.

"We are still people who want to teach our children how to suceed," Camille Loparrino said.

Loparrino has been a teacher for 21 years. Although temporarily assigned, she is on the list of teachers in reserve. Most teachers on the so-called ATR list previously taught at schools or in programs that were closed. They are placed on reserve with full pay, which now totals nearly $200 million.

"I would think that it's possibly my salary, because I'm very close to the top salary scale," Loparrino said.

As of Monday, there are 1,583 teachers on the list, down from the nearly 1,700 on the first day of school, while there are more than 1,126 teaching vacancies.

"There is this preconceived conception by a lot of people out there that these aren't good teachers," teachers union president Mike Mulgrew said. "But these are good teachers."

Matthew Feinberg is part of the Teaching Fellows program, which recruits people who have changed careers for teaching jobs. He has not yet been assigned, due to the hiring freeze on new teachers. But so far, of the 705 teaching fellows this year, 611 have found jobs at the more inexpensive salary level for starting teachers.

"It's hard for me to imagine that a principal would let a good teacher go," Feinberg said. "It really is. Because principals are really under the gun to produce results."

Principals' union president Ernest Logan says his members do not avoid reserve teachers.

"What we're finding is that you have a lot of people in the ATR pool and licenses that we don't need to fill particular vacancies that we have today," Logan said.

A Department of Education spokesperson says schools chancellor Joel Klein would like to negotiate with the teachers' union on a limit to the time a teacher may spend in the reserve pool of teachers.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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