The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) could have a big impact on job growth in the education sector.
“The administration has made it clear that there are two primary purposes for the Recovery Act's education funds: saving and creating jobs and improving education,” says John See, associate director of public affairs for the American Federation of Teachers in Washington, an affiliated international union of the AFL-CIO representing 1.4 million classroom teachers. “Hundreds of thousands of education jobs likely will be created or saved.”
Here’s an overview of some of the opportunities.
The ARRA earmarks $53.6 billion to states and school districts to prevent cost-cutting reductions, including layoffs. And this is needed to preserve education jobs: As many as 574,000 education jobs could be eliminated over the next three years due to budget cuts without the proper funding, according to a recent study by the University of Washington. Some funds also may be used to create new teaching jobs.
“Each state sets its own requirements for becoming a teacher,” See explains. For public schools, teachers are expected to have completed a college/university teacher education program or an alternate certification program, which fast-tracks career changers. Your state education department can tell you about specific requirements and programs.
“Teachers certified at an accredited college or university in one state may be allowed to transfer their teaching certificate to another state,” See says. “This is known as reciprocity. Usually, a state will require teachers who were licensed elsewhere to meet any local requirements for certification within a specified period of time.”
Early Childhood Instruction
Proposed expansions to Head Start and Early Head Start could create new jobs to reduce the preschool program’s child-to-teacher ratio. The National Head Start Association (NHSA) estimates the creation of as many as 60,000 new positions beginning as soon as the funds and grants are allocated, probably in early summer.
“Not only would the targeted stimulus funds go directly to the hardest-hit communities where they are needed most, but they could be put to work immediately to hire more teachers, more aides and other staff,” said Ron Herndon, NHSA board chairman in a prepared statement. Herndon is director of the Albina Head Start program in Portland, Oregon.
Early childhood teaching candidates typically need an AA or BSE in early childhood education. Aides require a high school diploma or equivalent, but experience in early childhood education is preferred.
Educational Data Management
The ARRA also includes funds for massive data systems to manage information that supports student achievement and growth. This could generate a potential need for technical positions, such as IT professionals and database managers, although there are no job creation numbers associated with this part of the bill.
“At a minimum, there will be a need for analysts, developers, database administrators, and system and network engineers,” says Joe Procopio, founder of Intrepid Media, a technical and management consulting and services firm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “Analysts will need to have background in education and be experts with data. Developers need to be able to build a system that captures a query from the user and delivers data from the database. Database administrators would need experience in storing vast amounts of data and tuning the database such that the time from query to response is minimized. And system and network engineers would need to create an environment that allows for thousands of concurrent users requesting vast amounts of data over limited bandwidth connections.”
So now is the time to contact school districts, IT staffing firms and Head Start programs in your area so your network’s in place when the stimulus money begins flowing to education and hiring starts. Who knows? Thanks to the ARRA, you could be going back to school this fall.