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Survey Debunks Notion of Teaching as Profession of Last Resort

Aired May 25, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Some folks regard teaching as a calling, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa talks with some new teachers who are learning the ins and outs of their new career.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's well over an hour before students are expected, but math teacher Steven Brunnlehrman is already preparing. At Heritage High School in New York city, that means attending a morning session...

GREG HAMILTON, TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: How about June 26, 27?

HINOJOSA: ... with a professor from a teachers college whose weekly visits help the staff stay on track, especially new teachers like Brunnlehrman.

HAMILTON: Many new teachers haven't worked with kids before. When they hit the classroom all on their own, they feel very alone.

HINOJOSA: But even so, they're generally happy, according to a new study. The nationwide survey contradicts the conventional wisdom that teaching is a career of last resort: 96 percent of new teachers surveyed said they love what they do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most important work in the world, so it's not surprising.

HINOJOSA: But there are complaints.

SUSAN BARTONLONE, PRINCIPAL, HERITAGE HIGH SCHOOL: They come in with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, well-prepared, I would say, academically in their disciplines, but the most difficult element is discipline.

HINOJOSA: The survey shows new teachers complained most not about low salaries, but about lack of classroom management preparation.

STEVE FARKAS, DIR. OF RESEARCH, PUBLIC AGENDA: They would much prefer to spend more time in the field while they were in a teacher preparation program rather than in the classroom studying theory.

HINOJOSA (on camera): This study says its findings challenge the stereotype that teachers aren't satisfied by what they do. In fact, only one-fifth of the new teachers surveyed said they plan on doing something else in the future.

FARKAS: So rather than having a vision of teaching as a kind of unmotivated, uninterested, uninspired teaching corps, actually, we get the exact opposite.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Teachers like 10-year veteran Ron Saltz, who says to teach was a calling.

RON SALTZ, ENGLISH TEACHER: It's an incredibly romantic profession. It's filled with their own experiences of teachers who inspired us, and we want to be that person.

HINOJOSA: And Steven Brunnlehrman plans on being that well into the future.

STEVEN BRUNNLEHRMAN, TEACHER: I want to get involved in writing math textbooks that are maybe set more for the urban school system. I'm really here to stay.

HINOJOSA: Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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