Delaware teachers being hired too late, according to report

Delaware is trying hard to upgrade the quality of their education.  Their success in securing “Race to the top” funds may be indictative of their desire to do better, but the state is finding it hard to compete at the classroom level. They can’t find and keep the right teachers.

A new study suggests Delaware schools may be losing quality teachers to districts in other states.  Many of those coming on board are hired just days before the school bells ring for the first time each September. 

Now, a task force recommends that Delaware take steps to encourage school district to hire teachers earlier in the school year. 

In 2008 and 2009, about 60% of new teachers were hired after July 31st, just weeks before the school year. 

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“Delaware is a small state, and we’re surrounded by other states that compete with us to hire the best new teachers from our region’s teaching schools,” Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn says. 

New teachers are getting offers from other states weeks or months before Delaware districts are ready, according to research conducted by Professor Jeffrey Raffel of the University of Delaware.  Districts do not find out with certainty how much state money they will receive to pay their teachers until they know how many students are enrolled in September.

“That orientation time that they miss is more critical now than it’s ever been before,” says State Senator David Sokola, chair of the Education Committee.  “These are often our least experienced, a brand new hire from out of college coming in.”

The task force indicates that the state could work with school districts to develop enrollment projections as early as March or April for the following school year.  Such a program would cost $50,000 to $100,000 per year for the 19 public school districts combined.

The task force recommends that the state seek private foundation funding for the first year or two of the survey process.  Other recommendations include guaranteeing local districts a minimum level of funding based upon spring enrollment estimates.  Additionally, it is recommended that consequences be considered for districts that continue to make late offers to teachers without good cause. 

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