Budget Cuts Lead to Program, Teacher Cuts

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Tight education budgets are placing innovative teacher preparation programs in peril and leading to rounds of teacher dismissals. Developments this week offer examples of how budget cuts are playing out on the ground.

Last year in L.A., the Los Angeles Teaching Fellows Program (run by The New Teacher Project) was energetically recruiting professionals including teachers, bankers and engineers into second careers as teachers. This year, the program has been unable to place nearly one sixth of their newly minted teachers into classrooms, as fully-credentialed teachers (who have come out of the woodwork in the bad economy) have taken all the slots. Needless to say, the 100 recruits who are now jobless are frustrated and angry.

Baltimore is facing a $52 million deficit, a projected district enrollment that was off by thousands of students, and the looming mandates of the highly qualified teacher provision of No Child Left Behind. This week the district realized it could easily dismiss 83 teachers who had let their teaching certificates lapse after multiple warnings. The district still has 300 surplus teachers. The alternatives for dealing with the remaining surplus are not likely to be as headache-free.

Finally, a few years ago Connecticut had developed successful partnership programs between school districts and schools of education to give future teachers more experience before they entered the classroom. Such programs (there were about 50 of them in 2001) were important for the development of new teachers in Connecticut, often touted as a showcase for teacher preparation by such groups as NCTAF. Due to budget cuts, the state of Connecticut is no longer managing or even tracking these programs; but by all accounts the number of partnerships is dropping due to the lack of funding.