Problem of not enough teachers inspires a state to get creative

Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 31, 2005 at 11:10 p.m.
How do you turn around a teacher shortage crisis?
In Florida, which is expected to have 30,000 vacancies in 2006-07, there are plans for more retention and teacher education programs locally and a national public relations campaign to attract out-of-state teachers.
But the competition will be stiff. Since No Child Left Behind passed, the demand for higher quality teachers has increased in almost every state, and everyone's coming up with new strategies to get teachers.
One of the more creative ideas in Arizona is to put $2,500 extra in teachers' pockets.
The state's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne wants to give both public and private school teachers the back-door raise in the form of a tax credit.
"The most important thing we can do to increase student learning is to raise the professional standards of our teachers," Horne said when he announced the proposal. "This can only be done by attracting and retaining larger numbers of highly qualified teachers."
If approved by the state's legislature, the credit would come in the form of a refund rather than a deduction, so teachers would have the $2,500 in hand.
The credit would cost Arizona about $150 million.
  • Thinking small: It is a small world after all - really, really small. And much of what we know about is learned through the ever-advancing technology of microscopes.
    Nikon offers a peek into that microscopic world through its annual "Small World Competition," which recognizes excellence in photography through the microscope.
    The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee hosted this year's international competition.
    The lab is operated by a consortium that includes the University of Florida, Florida State University and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
    Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash., claimed first place in the contest with his photomicrograph of a common housefly.
    A photo gallery of all the winners can be viewed online at
    Mike Davidson, director of the optical and magneto-optical imaging center at the magnet lab, says, "Once you've seen some of these images, it's hard to look at everyday objects in the same way again."
  • Head man: The head master of Oak Hall School will be named president of the Florida Council of Independent Schools next week.
    Richard Gehman, who has worked at Oak Hall for 13 years, already is vice president of the council that accredits and sets standards for private schools.
    FCIS is one of the nation's largest organizations of independent schools, representing more than 73,000 students in 159 schools.
    Keeping private schools like Oak Hall independent and free of the regulation of public schools will be one of his main priorities, he said.
    "It's going to be a challenge because we have a lot of things on our plate," Gehman said.
    Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or
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