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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 11:20 GMT
Bush pushes teacher recruitment
President Bush has made education a domestic priority
The United States needs to recruit an extra two million teachers in the next decade, says President Bush.

The growing threat of teacher shortages has prompted a 35% increase in the budget for teacher training and recruitment - up to $3bn.

And it is expected that he will call on young people to consider teaching as a career when he visits Minnesota on Monday.

The Bush administration has made raising education standards a key domestic policy - but there are fears that this could be undermined by a lack of teachers.

Speaking in a radio address at the weekend, President Bush emphasised the importance of the impact that a teacher could make on the life of young people.

"A good teacher can literally make a lifelong difference,'' he said.

Overseas recruiting

This has echoes of recruitment campaigns in the United Kingdom, which has also struggled with teacher shortages.

The Prime Minister Tony Blair supported a morale-raising recruitment campaign that stressed the importance of the teaching profession.

As with the school system in the United Kingdom, there has been a growing difficulty in the United States finding students who want to become teachers.

This has been attributed to a lack of status and over-work - and better prospects in other professional careers.

In both countries there is also an extra recruitment pressure created by an ageing workforce, with large numbers of teachers needing to be replaced when they retire.

In an attempt to increase the supply of teachers, the president wants it to be easier to transfer to teaching from other professions.

There have already been initiatives to encourage members of the armed forces to enter teaching when they retire from the services.

And the United States has also been recruiting overseas, particularly in the Pacific Rim, Central America and Eastern Europe, to find enough staff for its classrooms.

The president's efforts to boost recruitment have been disputed by the chairman of the Senate education committee, Edward Kennedy.

"Our teachers need real help, not empty words," said Senator Kennedy, who argued that the president's budget plans would "cut the very programs that recruit new teachers, improve teacher quality and reduce class size".

See also:

22 Apr 01 | Education
US schools seek teachers
28 Aug 01 | Education
Where are all the teachers?
25 Jun 01 | Education
Peckham primary recruits in Russia
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