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Superintendents: Education still a good career choice

The proration-related layoffs of teachers statewide should not impact the decision of those thinking about a career in education, local superintendents said Thursday.

Two of the three local systems have stated at the end of May, more than 20 teachers in Opp and Andalusia combined will be without jobs as dwindling sales tax revenues force systems statewide to make cuts from every aspect of education.

Locally, Andalusia City Schools System superintendent Dr. Beverly McAnulty said the layoffs will have both a short-term and long-term effect.

“It will impact the short term because if we have to release teachers they will try to be picked up by our surrounding states,” McAnulty said. “Long term it could impact Alabama because, if I were a teacher, I might look at other places that every three years didn’t go into proration and have to lay off teachers.

“One of the motivations to becoming a teacher is stability,” she said. “Newer teachers don’t really have that in Alabama.”

Opp superintendent Michael Smithart said, “There will always be those who dream of being a teacher and can’t envision themselves doing anything else, and we need those people in education.”

Smithart said he recently told to soon-to-be teachers set to graduate this spring from Troy University, “they are entering the world’s greatest profession at an inopportune time. ” he said.

“That’s not their fault. There may be opportunities out there, and they need to be ready,” he said.

One such opportunity may lie in the math and science field, he said.

“Those positions are often difficult to fill,” he said. “There are ­­several different avenues for teacher certification for people who have math and science backgrounds, and I think there may be a number of displaced workers who may pursue that.”

McAnulty said the opposite, claiming the layoffs will “exacerbate our current shortage of science and math teachers.”

“Young people may want to use their skills in other fields if the teaching profession is not stable,” she said. “Hopefully we will recover in a couple of years and hopefully Alabama will learn something from this crisis and take action to stabilize educational funding.”

However, both agreed teaching is a calling – and one students should continue to follow.

“If you love teaching please continue with your degree,” McAnulty said of current education majors. “There will be jobs – you just may need to be willing to be flexible.”