Education crisis hurting teachers looking for jobs

March 31, 2010 — by Anoop Galivanche and Parul Singh

A chain reaction involving the economic crisis and rapidly falling education budgets has hit the teachers entering the field hard. While teachers already with a job are mostly manging to hang on to them, it has become increasingly difficult for new teachers to enter the field since most schools are not hiring.

Mike McQuade, who works in the school’s maintenance department doing a variety of repairs on campus, is one of many educators who is struggling to find teaching opportunities with the current fiscal crisis. Despite holding a teaching credential in biology, McQuade says that the job market is unforgiving.

“It’s crazy,” McQuade said. “I can’t find a job, not anywhere.”

McQuade, who has been with Saratoga for the past four years and with the district for 15 years working in maintenance, has no shortage of qualifications. Prior to receiving his credential from National University last February, he had held an array of substitute teaching positions.

McQuade was a long term sub at SHS for Ms. Thompson when she had her first baby, and was in the classroom for a little over three months. Then McQuade left that job to go to Oakgrove High School where he was a long term substitute for 90 days . He was also a PE teacher in the 1980s at a private elementary school. In those days, a credential wasn’t needed to teach there.

McQuade noted he isn’t the only one in this situation. At a recent job fair held at the Santa Clara County Department of Education, 1,350 teachers came, McQuade said. “Not many of them got a job.”

Schools today, McQuade said, are having a hard time retaining their existing staff, much less hiring more. “Most places I talked to were just hoping they didn’t have to lay off teachers,” he said.

According to Parents at the Helm, an education organization, over 22,000 teachers recieved pink slips this year—approximately 7 percent of the 300,000 teachers California employs.

“It’s a very tough time for teachers,” McQuade said.

The employment crisis has taken a personal toll on McQuade, who spent his own money obtaining his teaching credential. Although McQuade’s wife, who teaches English at Los Gatos High School, has been supportive, McQuade is starting to feel a slight diminishing of his desire to teach.

“The longer I’m not in the classroom, it makes me forget why I want to teach,” he said.

But he said his brief teaching stints have left him with limited but sweet tastes of what teaching is like. “I love kids,” McQuade said. “The students are why you teach.”

This is perhaps why McQuade remains optimistic.

“I just picked a really bad time to go into teaching,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but I know I’ll get there someday.”

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