In recent years, East Meadow has seen many of its young people go off to college to study to be teachers, whether on an elementary, secondary or high school level. These jobs are promising as they offer a competitive salary, satisfying work, summer vacations, union representation, generous pension upon retirement and steadfast healthcare coverage.
However, new college graduates on Long Island often find it difficult to break into this field that they had thought would welcome them with open arms. Graduates can attest to the number of interviews they have gone on and demo lessons they have put together to inevitably not get hired for the position.
“Last year there was an opening in my district for an elementary general music teacher,” said Caitlin Donovan, an East Meadow High School graduate and current music teacher at Freeport High School. “I think there was maybe one or two music jobs posted on that website. My boss got 600 resumes for that one job. Is it possible that most of them were recent graduates? That is where I would put my money.”
This leads many to move away from Long Island in search of more opportunities and affordable living as part of the local brain drain, which is when young, talented people leave their towns in search of jobs, housing or other opportunities. For most Long Island communities, including East Meadow, this is a negative situation because without the younger generation’s talent there will be serious workforce and innovation problems in the future.
East Meadow resident Samantha Semonella, a 24-year-old graduate of the SUNY Old Westbury education program, explained that the most difficult part of the whole situation with teaching jobs is that students put so much effort into attaining their degree and then they cannot find a job on Long Island afterward.
“It almost feels like a waste of time going to school for teaching,” she said.
As teaching positions on Long Island become more competitive, some young people are adjusting their search options and broadening areas they would consider to outside of their native Long Island--ultimately contributing to the “brain drain.”
“I think that most people I went to school with have talked about moving to different areas,” Semonella said. “Our professors at SUNY Old Westbury have encouraged us to move off the island.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected national employment in the teaching sector is going to grow anywhere between 9 and 16 percent, depending on the educational level. Conversely, while the statistics prove true in the southern states, the Northeast region, including Long Island, is expecting a decline in teaching jobs.
There is no doubt in many people’s minds that young local teachers who just graduated recently are looking into other areas besides Long Island to find jobs.
“Being from Long Island, people tend to gravitate back here. People feel like they do not have to go anywhere to get a job,” Donovan said. “Teaching is teaching--you can do it anywhere.”