Fox 13 News in Tampa is reporting that the Hillsborough County school district is sending recruiters out of state – way out of state – to recruit teachers in critical needs fields, including math and science. Fox 13 reporter Doug Smith related conversations he had with James Goode, chief teacher recruiter for Hillsborough County, and Mark West, Principal at Bloomingdale High School:
“We are looking for the best and the brightest, and in those critical shortage areas, sometimes it’s difficult to find,” offered Mark West, the principal at Bloomingdale High School and a recruiter for Hillsborough County. He defined critical shortage areas as math, science, and reading.
“Do we really need to go out of state to recruit these people and potentially take away jobs?” Doug Smith asked him.
“I think, in some areas, the answer is yes,” he replied.
West was one of five recruiters to travel to Purdue University for a teacher recruiting trip back in May at a total cost of $3,497. He characterized the trip as successful.
“We don’t technically hire up there and say, ‘Come down and you have a job.’ We go up and basically advocate for Hillsborough County.”
West was looking for a physics teacher but didn’t find one, and doesn’t know if any prospective teachers he met at Purdue were hired by Hillsborough County.
Is this really necessary?
“I think it is,” Goode insisted. “You’re going to cut yourself off from a valuable supply of teachers that have double majors. Colleges of education in Florida don’t normally put out that kind of a product.”
Dr. Goode says the district spent just half of the money budgeted for out-of-state recruiting and the trips produced positive results. He says the district has hired 620 new teachers so far this year and 121 are from outside Florida and came from areas and colleges where Hillsborough County recruiters had visited.
When will the State of Florida decide to concentrate scarce teacher education resources in the emergency needs fields of chemistry and physics? Or will we continue to fly to Purdue University (and elsewhere) to recruit these teachers?