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New teacher hiring at 4-year high

New York Teacher

The Department of Education hired 5,473 new teachers in the 2013–14 school year, the highest number in four years, after hiring plummeted to less than half that number in the 2009–10 school year, during the depths of the Great Recession. In the first three months of the current school year, hiring had already topped 3,750, with nine more months to go.

The UFT has tracked annual teacher hiring since 1991. As student enrollment climbed and the demand for special education teachers rose, annual hiring peaked in 2001 at 8,672 new teachers. It was slowed not only by the recession but also by several rounds of state budget cuts leading to years of rising class sizes.

Last year’s new teachers arrived in 75 different license areas, from American Sign Language to Swimming. The largest group, 1,875 teachers, or 34 percent of all hires, held special education licenses.

The DOE also hired 67 new art teachers, a welcome turnaround after declining numbers over the previous several years. Common Branches was the second-largest license group, with 700 new teachers hired. The DOE also brought in almost 300 speech improvement teachers and 400 new math teachers.

As hiring picked up, though, there was also an uptick in attrition. In the 2013–14 school year, 7 percent of new hires quit within their first year of teaching, an improvement from a decade ago. But the quit rates of second- and third-year teachers rose. By their fourth year of teaching, the most recent data show, about a quarter of new teachers left the city school system.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and corporate education reformers fret over getting rid of teachers, many more leave city schools of their own volition. Last year 101 of the new special education teachers hired left before the year was up, as did 46 new Common Branches teachers and 47 new math teachers. After five years, about 40 percent of new hires are gone from city schools, the data show.