Laboring over labor markets ...

The Crookston School Superintendent just received the annual administrator's award for this region of school districts. It was announced on the local radio site (in written form- a great use of the internet by this community) along with a summation of this past weeks' orientation of new board members and superintendents in the Twin Cities. One of the quotes from the supt. mentioned efforts to get non-teachers who are laborers participating in other fields into the classrooms, especially for rural areas. I have no idea how that will be handled by the Fed's financial funding due to their 'best qualified' requirement for teacher by certification placement under No Child Left Behind. But I am fairly certain that this will not be favorable to the teachers' union(s) in this region. I don't know from a strictly financial point of view whether this would pull people out of other professions in the area. No doubt it would require an additional year of teacher's training beyond the person's professional bachelors if modeled after current 'after college' cert programs.

The hiring and wage markets up here in the northwest are certainly influenced heavily by local manufacturing. In fact, a person out of high school (with a good quality skill set) can start close to here at $12/hr, which translates into $24K right off with full health benefits at very, very little cost share by the employee. This is a base, and does not count additional income for all the overtime that is available; it also accounts for about eleven months of work once vacation is accounted for. Teachers generally receive just a couple vacation days per year, and though they roughly work nine months a years, there is LOT of behind the scenes 'overtime' type of hours involved. A new certified teacher right out of school with a certificate and bachelors may start at ~$30K around here, yet in this district employees are paying well over $5K as their cost share for a fairly advantageously subsidized health insurance program.

A few years ago while I slept overnight at the only available accommodations -on the floor of a remote village(pop. 90) school- I talked quite a while with a fellow social studies teacher who had just arrived that September out of a bachelors teaching program in Wyoming. When I asked him about teaching job availability back home, he mentioned there was a large shortage. He indicated it was due to market competition for labor, as out of his ENTIRE (teaching) graduating class only he and one other went into teaching if I remember right. The rest got their degrees/certifications and went right into the local oil fields to make much, much more money.... I expect with current Minnesota trained student teachers looking at a stymied job market within the state, many may be looking to start- and finish- teaching careers in North Dakota which would certainly be a switch from decades past. (Or similar to Wyoming a few years back, many teachers may join the several people from this area who have given up local careers for oil patch jobs in the western part of the state)

Schools are vitally important to economic development in rural, small towns as often they are the lion's share of industry/payroll. And so, to bring it home, our local school board is going into contract negotiations with teachers (and several bargaining units this year). I have a feeling from indicators that locally these will be hard line negotiations. With economic tough times staving off many of the enmass Baby Boomer teachers from retiring may just be the school board's thought are along the lines of 'keeping your job is the new raise!' But in this region, with labor shortages in manufacturing it may be that younger teachers take cues as mobile labor agents to 'go back to school', retrain and enter a labor market. Unfortunately, this may decimate the effectiveness of smaller schools considering the type of historical and institutional knowledge needed when working with human capital (kiddos).

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This page contains a single entry by artlnash published on January 18, 2011 7:02 AM.

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