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Recession 2009 And Its Impact On Teaching

1093355_financial_crisisWhen I entered the field of education, I was well aware that I wasn’t going into teaching because of the prolific amount of cash I could accumulate from the career. I entered education basically because it’s a good thing to do and it’s something that I absolutely love doing.

Last week, I posted a question about when the right time to relocate to a different teaching job might be. I received some great responses (in the comments, through Twitter, and in email). However, some of the comments sort of caught me off guard.

A few of the comments referenced the Recession of 2009 as being a reason I might want to stay in my current teaching situation (despite the social reasons I had indicated).

My question for you is:

How are some ways you see the recession of 2009 having an impact on teaching and the education industry altogether?

In addressing this issue with some of my Twitter followers, I realize that asking a broad question like that is opening up a huge can of worms perhaps. So consider the can opened.

Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

27 thoughts on “Recession 2009 And Its Impact On Teaching

  1. As I see it, the recession can help teachers out by adding a bit of job security to those teachers who actually do their jobs. For the teachers who don’t teach effectively, or who don’t have a handle on classroom management, the recession simply adds greater insecurity.

    US News and World Reports seems to agree in their article 7 Jobs for Job Security in a Recession.

    Neil brings out an interesting point in his post Recession solving teacher shortage?. As the economy sours, more people are turning to teaching (at least in Australia) because of the job security that education can afford.

    So that being said, it begs the question, is the job security as — ummm — secure for teachers who are new in a district as it is for those who have been in the same place for a while? Probably not, but it’s still probably more secure than working for a big music label like my brother does!

    Now @missprofe pointed out that the global economic downturn could lead “to the creation and promotion of even more mis-guided educational policies.” That’s another interesting take as well.

    1. I think it definitely decreases the job security for teachers who are new in their school district and do not have professional status in that town because with so many layoffs, towns can be even pickier. I’m also finding that more schools are requiring/preferring that candidates have their masters because, as I said, they can be picky. It makes finding a job really hard.

  2. In California, over 26,000 have received pink slips and we are not sure how many of those will actually be laid off come May when the final notices are sent. Many of these teachers were new teachers and/or new in their districts. In my district, lay off notices were sent those who had started teaching in my district in 2004, so they went back five years. I’ve been in my district for 8 years, however, if I choose to leave and go to work in another district, I would be considered “new”, thus more susceptible to lay-offs.

    1. Great point. Something I forgot to mention in my first comment was that while the global economy may be suffering, many local economies are thriving. Clearly if you live in California (income tax IOU land), Florida (overpriced housing bubble popped), Michigan (auto makers), or a handful of other places where the economy is hit hard, things can be catastrophic.

      But of course, that all has to do with the local economies more than a global problem. For that matter, the vast majorty of the world is in a continual recession…

    2. I ‘ve watched a lot of my friends graduate from the University of California, Davis in the last few years go on and get their credentials or M.Ed and start teaching. Now almost all of them are left wondering whether or not they’re going to have a job next year.

      What seems like a stream of annual budget cutbacks has thrown the jobs of district administrators on to the chopping block, instead of positions that directly affect a classroom. However, those administrative employess – all once teachers themselves – are guaranteed employment in their districts, leaving all the green teachers out in the cold.

      Education should be an industry that is recession proof, but when your employment is only guaranteed by state funding, and California for all intents and purposes is bankrupt, things start to fall apart.

    3. This is one more reason I love living in Texas. School districts are funded by local property taxes. Oh yeah, plus the whole no state income tax thing is pretty sweet too!

    4. Heh, yeah. The school I work at has maintained a phenomenal performing arts program solely through funding at the local level. The community understands that you get what you pay for, and luckily it’s a pretty affluent community.

      The district only has one High School, and a while back they passed a parcel tax that not only pays for a program with 4 choirs, 3 bands, 3 orchestras and an AP Theory class (which routinely gets 30 kids every year) but also somehow provides for a 7th period within the normal school day so the kids have the time to partake in all the programs the school has to offer.

      When our glorious governator cut budgets last year across the board by 10%, the community raised somewhere near $400,000 to retain the programs, and then passed a measure to raise the parcel tax to sustain them for another three years.

      Although you paint a pretty picture of life down in Texas, I don’t think I could deal with the expectations of marching programs down there. Once I get my Master’s I’m pretty sure I’m leaving the Sunshine state for somewhere with more rain and a bigger budget.

      Actually, right now, I’d settle for just a budget.

  3. I’m in Florida, which is partially ground zero for the recession (as far as the housing market is concerned) and the recession may very well cost me my job. I am an annual contract band teacher.

  4. I’m in Texas, where football is king, so band folks have a little easier time. We have to have a halftime show, you know!

    I’m a former English/Reading (secondary) teacher who now teaches pre-service teachers at UT; this issue is one that comes up often in my classes…”will we be able to get jobs?” Unfortunately, here in Texas MANY principals are forced to make many hires based on what kind of coaches the Athletic Director needs for the following season. (This is not hearsay or rumor; my husband was a high school principal for 20+ years, as was one of my best friends, and they both encountered this in schools all over the state.)

    What I tell my pre-service teachers is that they can find jobs if they aren’t particular about WHERE they teach; they may not get the AP job at the best school in Austin, however! I also advise them to get endorsements or other certifications in areas in which they have an interest; i.e. reading, literacy, special ed, etc. The more valuable you are as an employee, the greater your success in getting and keeping a teaching position. I also tell them that they may be offered a position contingent on also being the cheerleader sponsor…and that they should think long and hard about how badly they want that spot! ;-)

    1. Right. My first job was in a small 4A district about an hour from home. I knew people in the region, but it didn’t entirely work out. As a result, I resigned after the second year.

      I ended up getting a job about 7 hours away from home far away from everyone I knew. And on top of that, it was only teaching 6th grade band. I love teaching 6th grade, but I also wanted to go to contest. Well, it ended up being a great situation for me and I’m still in the same district and have moved up to the 7th & 8th grade now.

      Patience is an amazing thing that we all end up learning sooner or later.

  5. In our region, most districts won’t honor experience over 10 years when it comes to placement on a salary schedule. So if that is the motivation for movement, one should consider finding another district in the early years of ones career. However, if money is not an issue (did I really say that?), then seniority is another thing to consider as it relates to tenure, and if one moves the clock on tenure may start over. The comment about getting as many certifications as possible is a good one, since you can become like the baseball player who can not only play second but left field and catcher if needed. Being a “utility teacher” may prolong your career and sure can’t hurt. In my case, I have special education K-12 and elementary education K-8.
    Along less practical but no less important issues, if your school or district is a bad one…get the heck out as soon as you can. Life is too short. I am writing an article for the Missouri NEA magazine Something Better that deals with What Is A Good School, to be published in the summer ’09 issue.
    Tom Anselm

    1. “In my case, I have special education K-12 and elementary education K-8.”
      ooooooo……you’re recession-proof, Tom! That’s awesome! Better yet, you can write your pass anywhere you want to be, and be choosy! That’s perfect!
      good for you

  6. I forsee many school districts laying off teachers and creating larger classrooms because their budgets are going to be cut. If a teacher loses his/her job because of that I would suggest that they sign up to be substitute teachers and they will probably still end up teaching every day.

  7. News Flash: School Districts are like companies: They are layered by fat, meat, and finally bone.

    The recession in California is cutting through fat and getting to the meat. Whether it hits the bone, only time will tell. If it does, I pity the kids of Calfornia.

    I don’t get the notion you mention of people going into it when the recession is on. I think people should go into it because they are driven by the education transaction between teacher and pupil. If they aren’t, why are they being paid? Security is relevant and while I am very secure having 10 years in, I’d quit if it wasn’t for me.

    1. Thanks, Damien. I agree wholeheartedly. If you make yourself vital to the direction that the school is moving, then you essentially make yourself “fireproof.”

      What I gathered from the article is that many people view education as a sort of “recession proof” venture, and so they take the leap and step into the classroom when the economy is tough.

      I agree with you that it is downright reprehensible for people to choose teaching as a sort of fall-back career in case they can’t “get a real job.” I heard that advice dished out quite a bit as a college music major and it bugged me.

      My point was not that we should be using education as a backup plan. It was more that many people are. Maybe that can provide a bit of security for those teachers out there who are freaking out because of all the news they watch…

  8. I don’t think anybody mentioned this but in our district many teachers who were going to retire this year aren’t retiring. As of March 1st there were 3 announced retirements–we usually have 150 or so leave to retirement or leaving town or maternity, whatever. (This is making a bigger problem than usual, budget cuts have already eliminated 100 teaching, librarian, counseling, or asst. principal positions and those people need to be reassigned)

    Why aren’t they leaving? Lost money in the market, spouse out of work, need health insurance. Will districts now have a bunch of snarky, tired un-retired teachers in the classroom.

  9. Nancy count me in with the group who was considering hanging up the old dry-erase markers this year, but when looking at the balance sheet, said “Hmmmm.. not so much.”
    And our district is also doing a cut back based on fewer kids diagnosed with disabilities. Of course when you change the criteria from Behavior Disorder to Emotional Disturbed as a diagnosis, that dropped a whole lot of kids who were, shall we say, “conduct disordered”, subsequently putting them out from under the umbrella of special ed.
    Thus fewer kids thus lower need for teachers thus better budget management. Good thing is no lay-offs. Yet.
    Tom Anselm, teacher and author

  10. In Georgia, furloughs are being considered for teachers. These furloughs will cost me a little over $1000. Because of this, I am now not relocating. I had planned to move to the other end of the state. I’m concerned that with this reduction in salary, I won’t be able to afford the move.

  11. This is fascinating from the point of view of someone involved in the educational blogosphere, but not a teacher. Here in the UK one teaching union has just demanded a 10 percent payrise (in the middle of a recession..) while I recently posted a piece by a student complaining how difficult it is to be graduating when there are no jobs around. I think the issues are the same all over the world.

    1. Wow. Thanks for the perspective from across the pond, Sarah. I think you’re right about this thing being on a large scale. We gotta remember that most of the world is in a perpetual recession.

  12. Boo-hoo. Wah-wah. Some people enter teaching as a fallback option; Gasp! These horrible teaching heretics didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming teachers.

    Honestly, I don’t care what a teacher’s motivation is. I only want to know one thing: Is he/she effective?

    This is what I will call the J.D. Drew Corollary. For those who don’t know, J.D. Drew plays baseball for the Red Sox. If God were to create the perfect player, with a beautiful swing, powerful arm, and great fielding ability, he’d mold J.D. Drew out of clay.

    J.D. Drew is an enigma, though, since he doesn’t seem to care about baseball or try hard. Why isn’t he on the bench or shipped off to the minors? Playing half-heartedly, he is still better than 75 percent of the other players. Production counts.

    The most important thing is effectiveness. I’d rather have the career changer or the person who throws together haphazard lesson plans, yet is effective, than the person who dreamed of becoming a teacher from his/her first day in kindgergarten, but just doesn’t have the teaching gene.

    Let’s stop worrying about who likes teaching the most/who wanted to be a teacher from Day 1. I don’t care if a teacher absolutely loves her job or is biding her time until she can get that novel published/get that job in finance. All I care about is that she’s a good teacher.

  13. Sean, as a Cardinal Fan, I absolutely loved the JD Drew reference. Perfect!
    I would like to think I fall into that category to some degree when it comes to teaching. If I were being graded by the Big Evaluator in the Sky as to my “Difference Making Ability” based on the quality of my lesson plans or my room decor rather than the kid who 5 years after he was in my class who comes up to me as he is working at KMart and tells me he was glad he was in my class, then I would have never been asked back for another year. But thank G. I am able to make it through the “stuff” of the trade and get into the essence, at least on most cases. And I just happen to be a teacher who loves his job AND has published a novel.
    Nice comments, Sean.
    Tom Anselm

  14. Hey Tom,

    I’m glad you liked the J.D. Drew reference. Phillies fans also dislike him. And, J.D. Drew might not be the best reference a non-trying difference maker, because he is hurt half the time, so that makes him unproductive. That would be like having a talented teacher who really doesn’t care (which wouldn’t be too big a problem if he was good), but also calls in sick half the year.

    And, congratulations on your novel. I clicked on your webpage. The book looks good. I never went to spacecamp, but I did go to summer camp and later work at summer camp.

    I came up with my analogy reading a New York Times article about laid-off professionals going into teaching as a fall-back career. There were over 200 reader comments, and many were from teachers who are offended by people who go into teaching as a fallback career.

    I think this ties into the whole debate over teacher certification. I side more with the Relax the Barriers approach to let talented professionals enter teaching without first going through burdensome certification requirements. (I also happen to be someone who began teaching in a private school after grad school and only later took education classes for certification) Sometimes I think teachers favor certification because they are offended by the idea of people becoming teachers after giving up on some other dream first. (Again, that would be me :-). I played college baseball and planned (hoped?) to play in the Majors, and fell back on teaching after getting a Masters Degree in a humanities field.

    Teaching is an awesome profession. I love it. I grew to love it. But there will always be people in every job who are there as a backup option. Whether it is teaching, or practicing law, or practicing medicine, there will always be some people in the field who fell back after missing out on their first dream. That’s life.

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