Good Teachers Need Not Apply


The Washington Post's Jay Matthews reports on a maddening study that details how urban school districts keep high quality teachers away from disadvantaged kids.

The researchers surveyed more than 300 applicants for inner-city teaching jobs who withdrew out of frustration with the hiring process. Those applicants, compared with others around the country, "had significantly higher undergraduate GPAs (grade-point averages), were 40 percent more likely to have a degree in their teaching field, and were significantly more likely to have completed educational course work," according to [the report].

…37 percent to 69 percent of those who withdrew applications out of frustration—percentages varied by districts—were candidates for "hard-to-fill positions."

In each city, [the researchers] encountered "poor design and execution by [school] district human resources offices, a cumbersome application process, too many layers of bureaucracy, inadequate customer service, poor data services, and an overall lack of urgency."

It was standard procedure to let impressive applications sit in file drawers for months, the researchers found, while the candidates, needing to get their lives in order, secured work elsewhere. One district, for example, received 4,000 applications for 200 slots but was slow to offer jobs and lost out on top candidates.

The study, published by the New Teacher Project, says the problem is largely due to: policies that allow retiring teachers to provide very late notice; teacher union transfer rights; and late budget timetables.

Here's the report.