The recession and budget cuts affecting the country and state now are being felt within the College of Education and Human Services.
Angela Stornello, senior education major from Arlington, said she worries about job availability.
“It’s scary. I’m about to graduate, and their aren’t any jobs,” Stornello said. “I went to an ACU job fair specifically for education majors, and it was disheartening. They were saying they’d love to hire us, but they couldn’t.”
Despite a challenging economic situation, Dr. Dana Kennamer Hood, chair of Department of Curriculum and Instruction and professor of curriculum and instruction, maintains a bright outlook for graduates and said her department prepares students to find jobs.
“Employers know we prepare excellent teachers, but students have to now be more active in their job search, especially in education,” Hood said. “The job market is not what you would call an open one, so we are being much more intentional and preparing our students for job interviews and having them become ESL-certified to make them more attractive candidates.”
Hood compared the economy to a wave that will pass eventually and said more spots would become available.
“I know of lots of teachers just in Abilene who have 25 years or more already,” Hood said. “In the next three to five years, we’ll see lots of those teachers retiring and opening up jobs for graduates.”
Teachers from around the Abilene Independent School District are confident of a turnaround in prospects as well.
“The teachers I work with, as a student teacher, say it will probably bounce back in two years,” Stornello said. “Once officials see what is going on, they’ll realize their mistake and fix what they are doing now.”
Will Foster, junior education major from Mesquite said he worries he might not be able to get a job later.
“I’ve heard of a lot of first year teachers being laid off right now, and I’m thinking, ‘what’s the point of spending all this money and getting a degree if I’m not going to be able to get hired after graduation?’” Foster said. “The cuts are hurting a lot of people right now. I’m glad I have a couple of years left in school, because I’m hoping they’ll fix all their problems by the time I graduate.”
But as intimidating as fluctuating job security might seem for current graduates, both Hood and Stornello said they also are concerned about how cuts to education will affect American children.
“There is no way our government can cut funding and continue talks about excellence for our children,” Hood said. “Something will have to change, and they will have to address this.”
Many of the cuts eliminate more case-tailored programs under the assumption that all children can succeed with uniform care.
“It’s not fair to the kids,” Stornello said. “They are cutting extra programs like special-Ed and the gifted and talented programs, so many children won’t get the attention they need. How are we supposed to prepare them for the future if we don’t have the resources to provide them with what they need now?”
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