Katrina Evacuee Exodus to Florida Brings Need for More Teachers

By: Donna Davis
By: Donna Davis

Forced to flee Katrina, Erin Henderson had barely started her teaching career in New Orleans. Now she’s applying for a job in Tallahassee.

Erin says, “I can’t just sit in the hotel forever, so I'm anxious to get back in the classroom."

To help teachers like Erin get into the classroom sooner and to make life easier, the school district is paying the fee for background checks.

Bill Montford, Leon County School Superintendent, says, “It’s a good opportunity for us to have some additional well qualified, hard working employees and applicants.”

It’s a similar situation around Florida. The state has thousands of teacher openings because of the demands of the class size amendment.

Education Commissioner John Winn is urging displaced teachers to apply for some 2,300 jobs the state was unable to fill. He says qualified teachers won’t have to take the Florida Certification Test.

John Winn says, “We’re trying to make sure we’re not adding bureaucracy to their efforts to get in the classrooms right away."

The influx of qualified teachers is a bittersweet solution for a state desperate for teachers, and a welcome opportunity for Erin and others like her.


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