Teacher-shortage fears unfounded, says report

Fears that the nation's elementary and secondary schools face a shortage of teachers are largely unfounded, according to a report released here. ``Raw data indicate the numbers of people stepping forward to teach is keeping up with demand in all but a few content areas and regions of the country,'' said the report by C. Emily Feistritzer, director of the private, Washington-based National Center for Education Information.

The report says the overall number of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools is increasing faster than enrollments. It adds that the largest number of teacher vacancies is in mathematics, science, special education and foreign languages.

Ms. Feistritzer said data on shortages are unreliable because definitions of shortage differ from school to school.

The report, ``Teacher Crisis: Myth or Reality,'' analyzed data on enrollment trends, teacher hires, teacher salaries, and emergency certifications.

US Education Secretary William Bennett called the Feistritzer report ``a good job.'' But it was labeled misleading and simplistic by the 1.8 million-member National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union. Spokesman Howard Carroll said the study ``flies in the face'' of several major reports warning of an impending teacher shortage.

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