Teaching in Denver and suburbs?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by heyitssteph, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    My home state has been brought up as an example of where NOT to look for a teaching job.
    Does anyone know if the Denver market is decent? (And by decent I mean...not horrible)
    I know pay isn't as good as some other states, but as long as I can afford to live on a starting salary, I'm still open. At this point I am young, single, and just starting out.

    Also, does anyone know if you can realistically add a secondary endorsement to an elementary education license? I noticed Colorado does not have a middle school specific endorsement..

    Thanks everyone!
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I teach in Denver. Yes, the market is decent compared to other places, but you won't really find places that are desperate to hire or anything like that, so it may be difficult to get a job as an out of state candidate. Denver is the toughest market by far within Colorado, but still really good compared to a lot of other cities. I would say on average schools get about 200-400 applicants per position. Living here on a teacher's salary is doable, but like you said the pay is not great. The rental market is extremely tight so housing costs are getting ridiculous. Apartments know they can charge whatever they want. The city as a whole has less than 1% rental vacancy right now. I live in a nice suburb right next to the light rail (which is expensive, but very worth it IMO), so I have easy access to downtown. If you're interested in actually living downtown, that would be absolutely impossible on a teacher's salary unless you have a roommate and can keep your other costs down. There is also just a lot of political turmoil going on with schools right now in our city. Two very large districts who were once the best in the area have been taken over by "reformers" in the past couple of years and have spiraled into absolutely horrible places to work. I don't think anyone would have predicted that a couple of years ago, and it's a definite threat to other districts as well. I also worked in a small district that was horribly corrupt and political- would not wish it on my worst enemy! Denver Public Schools is very hit or miss and it totally depends on what school you're at. I have friends who love it and friends who had horrible experiences there. I'm fortunate that I now work in a lovely little district, but after seeing what happened to districts around us the threat is definitely there for us too. Denver is an awesome city for a young single person just starting out- but I'd be concerned about finding a good teaching job here. If you're serious about looking into CO, you need to apply for your CO license right now. Mine took 7 months to come in, and you'll be a much more viable candidate if you have the license in hand when applying from out of state. I'm assuming you're looking for next year, as the school year has already started here. A couple of years ago, you could just take the praxis to get more endorsements. I had a K-3 from my home state, which transferred to birth-age 8 here. I took the praxis to get my K-6th license. I'm not sure if that's still true or not, but you can always contact the colorado department of ed with questions.
     
  4. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    Thank you so much. Can you give me an idea of what starting salaries are?
    I am OK with living with roommates, but I will have loans from my teaching program that I will have to pay.
    I won't have my license in my home state until Spring of next year when I finish my program, so I am just looking ahead until then.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Starting salary in the city and close suburbs is about 35-38,000. Further outside the city (45-60 minutes), starting salaries are more around 29-32,000.
     
  6. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    Thanks! Is it harder to get into certain city or close suburban districts than others?
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Hard to say...overall I would guess that a lot of districts have a similar number of applicants, because people want to live in the area and they apply to all the districts they can. For example, if you go to job fairs you will see lines wrapped around the building for any district in Denver, even if it doesn't have the greatest reputation, and you will see practically empty tables for districts that are even an hour or so outside of the city. However, some of those districts will have tons of openings because they have a high turnover. So yes, easier to get a job, but I would advise you to RUN from any school that has a ton of openings. I made that mistake when I first moved here. If that many people are leaving the school, there is a reason for that! The job market has also become more flooded in the past year or so with experienced teachers who are leaving the "reform" districts. These two districts are very large, and people with even 15-20 years experience are taking huge pay cuts to get out, which obviously the other districts are taking advantage of. We had three openings this year (one from retirement and two brand new positions) and practically everyone that got an interview was an experienced teacher from a reform district. Two people that we hired have almost 15 years of experience. The district I work in now pretty much will not hire first year teachers. The district I left was full of them, but that's because new teachers who didn't know any better were all they could recruit...it was a truly horrible place to work.
     
  8. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    You are terrific!
    Do you recommend subbing at first?
    any other tips on how to make my resume stand out? I will check with the Dept of Ed about the license per your suggestion!
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Thanks! I worked in a mountain district for two years before coming down to Denver, so that's how I was able to get my job here. Up there they get around 15-20 applicants per position at the most. A lot of people that I know did the same thing- they worked somewhere else in the state, got some experience, and then were able to get hired in Denver. If you don't want to do that, I'd probably recommend para jobs over subbing, unless it's a long term sub job. In my experience admin has little to no interaction with subs, so you're just not going to get noticed that way. Instructional paras work with small groups and do a lot of instruction, so it would be a way for admin to notice your teaching, and you'd be a regular part of the building/staff so you could at least get some people to be references for your job search the next year. 1:1 paras are assigned to a specific student (usually a student with severe needs or behavior problems), so you don't want that type of position because you won't be doing any teaching.

    Multiple endorsements will make your resume stand out. I would recommend an ELL endorsement. Also if you know Spanish that would be a huge plus. I minored in Spanish in college. I'm not near fluent enough to hold my own meetings without an interpreter or anything, but I still think having it on my resume really helped because it shows respect for the culture, which is really prominent here. I can also have a conversation with a parent in a pinch if necessary.
     
  10. Pj667766

    Pj667766 New Member

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    Wow starting salaries in NJ without an MA is about $52-54,000 but it's also more expensive here...:2cents::2cents::2cents:
     
  11. Janedo5513

    Janedo5513 Rookie

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    What about Colorado Springs? My husband is active military and there is a high chance we might be stationed there or AK. I have heard nothing but great things about the school districts in Colorado Springs.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    It will be a lot easier to get a job in CS than in Denver. The salary in most districts is significantly lower though. I was offered a job last year in Fountain Fort Carson, which has some schools on the military bases. I've heard good things about the district. I didn't take it because I didn't want to live in CS (I had started applying kind of out of desperation because I wasn't getting offers in Denver, but I managed to get an offer here around the same time, so I took that one). I also would have to work for 11 years there before reaching what I make as a 5th year teacher here. The only district I've heard really bad things about is Harrison District 2, and I know Falcon 49 has a significant amount of turnover each year, but I'm not local enough to know the real reasons behind that. I definitely am not up on what's going on politically with the schools there or anything like that.
     
  13. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    Yikes...just read up on the stuff happening in the "reform districts." I hope those poor kids/teachers don't get shafted. Where I am from most of the suburbs and the families who live in them are very strong supporters of our public schools! I have never heard of such a thing in my area. :confused:

    Do any of the districts offer student loan reimbursement? Or am I dreaming big?
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Many of the parents/families are actually very supportive of the schools, it's just that the school boards are extremely corrupt. One has actually spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a PR firm to make it appear that people are happier with the district than they are. There are parent rallies outside of every board meeting (they do not let the public inside) and any major school event. The parents also started a huge opt out movement for the state testing, resulting in the district's scores being significantly lower than they ever have been in the past. At one point last spring high school students were wearing t-shirts to school that said #firefagen (the superintendent). The things that are happening in this district are absolutely horrible and I would not wish it on anyone, but I am very proud and amazed at how this extremely conservative community has really rallied around their teachers.

    No, you're definitely not going to find anywhere that does student loan reimbursement. I didn't even know that was a thing- do other places do that?
     
  15. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    I thought I saw something on DPS website about that but realized it was probably too good to be true. I have heard of districts paying for masters degrees however. The salaries I have seen do make it harder for someone with loans to live there. Where I am teachers actually get paid fairly well compared to most other states and parts of the nation.
     
  16. Janedo5513

    Janedo5513 Rookie

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    Thank you! That is more comforting to know about the job prospect in Colorado Springs and thank you for the heads up about Harrison District!
     
  17. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    One last question..is there a reason there are so many charter schools in the area? Where I live now, most charters are in low income inner city neighborhoods. Seems to me in Denver it's the other way around. Is this a sign of the quality of most area school districts?
     
  18. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    This is a loaded question! Charters are definitely a big part of the "reform" movement out here. In fact, for the main "reform" district here, the school board members wormed their way into the district through district-run charters. Yes, there are tons of them, and many (most?) are in wealthier areas, or pull the few involved, higher SES families from poorer areas. In my hometown, charters had a horrible reputation and were seriously thought of as schools for students who got kicked out of public schools. Here, it is just the opposite. The charters here are more comparable to the private schools back home. They have entrance exams that students must pass, so they ensure they only get the top students. They either don't take special education students at all, or if they do they will only take a few students with very mild disabilities. They are also not required to take ELL students, since they can say they don't have the funding for ELL programming. They also do not tolerate behavior problems of any kind, and require extensive volunteer hours from families, which pretty much guarantees they can only get higher SES, involved parents (since lower SES parents can't afford to away from work that much to volunteer at the schools). So while the schools have good reputations themselves, many that support public education dislike them. We just had our big district-wide kick off for the beginning of the year, and it kind of felt like a "public education" rally, lol. I have a new teammate this year who is coming from a charter, and she says the requirements for teachers were ridiculous. She kept joking about calling all of her charter school friends to brag about what public school is like, lol. It is creating a problem for public schools though because the charters are skimming all the top students, making it look like public schools are "getting worse" based on test scores when in fact that's not true. This "getting worse" scare then creates environments for reform activists to get into the districts and get elected by the public who doesn't know any better.
     
  19. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    That's sad. Do people just not know better or are most people big supporters of a private or charter school ed? Here, our public schools are so good I don't think charters would ever really catch on in the suburban areas. Part of why it is so hard to get a job in the suburbs of Chicago, where I live, is because teachers, families, and students are all treated really well. It is expensive to buy property in many of the districts because the schools are so good. On the other hand getting a job in a suburban school is very, very hard and it comes down to "who you know" all too often.
     
  20. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Support for public education is going away everywhere- just look at what's going on nationally politically. Reformers are able to get voted in because they are willing to get rid of unions, which are pretty much hated everywhere because they are getting such a bad rap in the media. I think you would be hard pressed to find many people anywhere who support teacher's unions unless they're a teacher themselves or married to a teacher. Then the reformers are also able to (or promise to) save the taxpayers money by cutting teacher pay and benefits. This is something that's going on all over the country, and we've had many threads here about it.
     
  21. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    I understand that, but families with kids are typically supportive of public schools from what I've seen and heard where I live. In your experience, are most families/parents supportive of public schools? I guess what I am asking is if education is a priority for most Denver-area citizens/families?
     
  22. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Seeing education as a priority and supporting public schools are two totally different things. The parents that send their kids to charters and are willing to put in all those volunteer hours obviously see education as a priority, but they don't support public schools. Once people have started to see what these reformers are doing to schools, more support for unions has come around, but those people are still not the majority. The reformers were elected by a landslide in the first reform district, and it took about 3 years of their 4 year term for there to really be a public outcry about what they were doing. A grassroots parent movement started to try to elect an entire group of new board candidates that would bring back the union. They held rallies almost every day were extremely vocal in public. The reformers however, were able to spend millions on campaigning, even getting hefty donations from people like the Koch brothers. The election had the biggest turnout in history and the reform candidates won again, but this time by just 51% of the vote. It was extremely disappointing, but I think the fact that the wealthiest and most conservative county in the state got 49% of people to vote for pro-union school board candidates is amazing. At the same time, a reform board was voted into one of the other wealthy districts in the area in this same election, by a large margin and without much fanfare. These people campaign by saying they're going to cut spending and get rid of "bad teachers." The people who vote for them think they ARE supporting education and that they will get the best teachers for their kids this way. It's the same anti-union rhetoric you hear anywhere else.
     
  23. heyitssteph

    heyitssteph Rookie

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    I am replying to you via PM as this is getting far, far away from the original question. :) :thanks:
     

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