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The situation regarding teachers in Chicago gained national attention when the teacher’s union went on strike for the first time in 25 years. Public school teachers went on strike in Chicago and gave attention to the growing debate over teacher evaluations, wages, benefits and job security.
During the economic recession, a group that was hit hard due to downsizing and budget cuts was teachers. A huge sticking point in the strike negotiations was the teachers union requesting that new teaching positions be filled by the teachers that had been previously laid off.
However, there are some complexities regarding this point in the negotiations because of the increased pay scale for teachers with seniority. Because many of the teachers laid off were teachers of longstanding, it would be beneficial to the budget to hire newly graduated teachers rather than those with seniority.
With the United States Department of Labor stating that jobs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers are projected to increase by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, there is a large amount of job vacancies for qualified teachers. All Education Schools states, “Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest public school system in the nation—which generates a sizable need for qualified teachers.”
With the recent creation of federal assistance programs to get more teachers into the field, there has been an abundance of new teachers in the job market, like the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. Therefore, the job market is being flooded with new teachers with minimal qualifications in terms of lack of teaching experience. This, combined with an increase in requirements for Illinois teaching certifications and many of the highly qualified teachers being pushed out or leaving the job market, makes for an increase in job vacancies for qualified teachers in the Chicago area.
North Park University Chicago’s website states, “In addition, within the 872 school districts in the state of Illinois that includes over 5,000 elementary, middle, and secondary schools it is estimated that there will be high rates of retirement for teachers of the baby boom generation that ultimately lead to more jobs for prospective teachers.” This dwindles down the qualified workforce in the teaching field because of the many teachers that were laid off during budget cuts over the past few years. Teachers US reiterates this fact, stating, “Babyboomers are reaching retirement age, resulting in a large amount of job openings that will need to be filled to replace the teachers expected to retire.”
When searching online for teaching positions in Chicago, it’s no wonder that numerous sites are bombarded with vacant teaching jobs. Jobs.net has over 200 open positions for teaching jobs in Chicago and there are 19 other links on this site alone that ask for even more teaching positions in the areas surrounding Chicago. It will be interesting to see what new revelations will emerge with this newfound correlation between the high number of job vacancies and lack of a skilled workforce in Chicago.
Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.