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Published: Monday, 5/26/2008

Ohio-trained educators finding jobs elsewhere


CLEVELAND - Teachers are becoming one of Ohio's top exports.

Ohio trains far more teachers than are needed in the state.

Many graduates of Ohio colleges are forced to look beyond the state's borders, and other states are happy to take them.

"It's so competitive in Ohio - one opening gets 100 to 200 applicants," said Cassandra Sears, a Baldwin-Wallace College graduate who received two Florida job offers at a job fair but couldn't find work here. "I have family here, but other than that, nothing's keeping me here."

Experts say Ohio's education programs train solid teachers, but too many of them.

Ashland University in central Ohio leads the state, with more than 5,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The school offers many of its classes online, a trend some experts find troublesome.

"What's cropped up in the last decade is the drive-through master's degree," said Deborah Delisle, superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. "I recall one so bad that the teachers in the program were making fun of it. It was accredited in California and operated out of a storefront in Michigan."

Ashland's program is accredited and requires students to be on campus, but many don't show up.

"Teacher education is the Dodge City of the education world," said Arthur Levine, former dean of Teachers College at Columbia University. "It is unruly and chaotic."

It's going to get more chaotic as the Baby Boomers retire and turn their classrooms over to new teachers.

Educators say they anticipate hiring 200,000 new teachers a year. One study estimated it would cost the United States $4.9 billion to train enough teachers. Ohio's share: $206 million a year.

That's good news for Ohio college students who want to stay near home; it's bad news for recruiters who are swarmed with soon-to-be-grads at job fairs.

Starr Weltzin has recruited teachers from a suburban Phoenix school district for the last five years.

"The quality of teachers in Ohio is what brings us back," she said.

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