They Just Want to Teach

Thousands of unemployed teachers apply for about 200 jobs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Nearly 2,000 laid off and otherwise displaced teachers showed up to McCormick Place Tuesday, hoping to land a new job in the Chicago Public School system.

    Unfortunately, there were only a couple of hundred job openings to be had.

    Unemployed Teachers Look for Work

    [CHI] Unemployed Teachers Look for Work
    Out-of-work teachers talk about what brought them to a Chicago Public Schools job fair -- and why many are having such a tough time getting hired.

    "I feel like a used car salesman. No one was interested -- too many others with the same qualifications," said out-of-work teacher Kathleen Katsoutas.

    Many teachers with long resumes complained that schools seemed to be more interested in young candidates with less experience -- who command lower salaries.

    One teacher said she ran into a principal she interviewed with at a similar job fair earlier in the summer who said, "I remember why we didn't call you. You have too many years in, and we can't afford you."

    But not all teachers said it was about the money. Lilia Nava said she was laid off because she doesn't have a bilingual certification she never knew she needed -- even though she speaks fluent Spanish.

    "I am bilingual, but I need to have that piece of paper to say that I'm certified," Nava said, adding that her principal gave her less than a month to get the certification.

    Most schools had only a few positions available -- and many of those were temporary replacements for teachers currently on leave. But the surfeit of applicants wasn't bad news for everyone at the job fair.

    Vincente Iturralde, the principal of Tarkington School, said he's interviewing for one permanent position and two maternity leave jobs, and has 15 qualified candidates he'll call back for interviews. At previous job fairs, Iturralde said, he was likely to find just two or three.