In light of the enormous teacher shortage affecting school districts across the country, President Bill Clinton announced a national online teacher recruitment clearinghouse that promises to help districts and qualified teachers find each other.

With most student enrollments rising and increasing numbers of teachers retiring, the United States needs to hire 2.2 million new teachers in the next ten years, Clinton estimated. Already, school districts across the nation are struggling to attract enough qualified educators to teach a record 53 million students this fall.

“In Cleveland, for example, administrators hired more than 200 teachers over the summer, but they’re still looking for another 400. And Cleveland is not alone,” Clinton said in his weekly radio address Aug. 26.

To alleviate these kinds of shortages, the National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse web site offers both recruiters and teachers who are seeking jobs practical and comprehensive resources in one place.

Created by Recruiting New Teachers Inc. (RNT) of Belmont, Mass., using funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the site links hundreds of teacher-specific job banks. It also provides links to sites on other relevant topics, such as how to keep teachers once you find them and what to do to become a teacher.

“This site creates a major technological tool that extends the reach of many districts for recruiting teachers,” said David Haselkorn, president of RNT, a national nonprofit organization that has worked for more than a decade to attract people to teaching careers and help districts find and keep teachers.

Unlike many teacher recruitment web sites that tend to be state-focused job listing sites, this portal will bring all of those efforts together so schools don’t have to recreate the wheel, he said.

Not only will it be a more cost-effective way for districts to conduct their teacher recruitment, Clinton said; it also will increase the pool of applicants for school districts, because the site’s scope is national.

To Samuel Cooper, the new service sounds great.

“Any resource we can get, we’ll use,” said Cooper, director of pupil personnel for the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District in New York. Cooper said he signed his district up for the service as soon as he heard about it.

Job listings for his district reach 850 teacher colleges through a national database, run in 35 Sunday newspapers, and are mailed directly to 100 local colleges, but “it still isn’t enough,” Cooper said.

In his district, as in many others around the country, teachers for special education, chemistry, physics, science, and technology are in short supply.

“We offer a brand-new high school with every piece of technology you can imagine. Our pay scale is attractive. Our kids are nice. Even with all of that, we can’t get quality teachers,” Cooper said. “I’m hoping with this, we get more exposure beyond our normal scope—outside of the state of New York.”

PA-Educator.Net, a Pennsylvania teacher recruitment site, also registered its job bank as a link on the National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse site to increase its accessibility.

“I think we will see a lot more activity [from] being on a national site,” said Mark Rescher, technology specialist at PA-Educator.Net. “Hopefully, we’ll get a lot more applicants to put on our site.”

Just two days after the national clearinghouse debuted online, the site had 60,000 visitors—who tallied 1.2 million page views—and the site is still in its prototype stage, Haselkorn said.

“It’s obvious that this isn’t a magic bullet,” he said. Districts will have to continue offering new prospects mentoring programs, loan forgiveness, signing bonuses, on-site child care, tax breaks, housing grants, and other incentives to entice top-quality teachers to their schools.

But the clearinghouse, as it continues to expand, gives schools an innovative way to find teachers—so the problems of increasing enrollments, an influx of retiring teachers, and pressure to reduce class sizes are not such a burden.

States and school districts can add their job listings to the clearinghouse by completing a short questionnaire on the web site.

Links:

National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse
http://www.recruitingteachers.org

Recruiting New Teachers Inc.
http://www.rnt.org

U.S. Department of Education
http://www.ed.gov

Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School
http://www.crcs.k12.ny.us

PA-Educator.Net
http://www.pa-educator.net