Baby Boom Echo Busts Schools

Actress Drew Barrymore arrives at the film premiere of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 23, 2006. The film opens in theatres on Nov. 3. AP

September is just around the corner, but it won't be just another "Back-to-School" month this year, as America's schools strain to keep up with soaring enrollment.

CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg reports that this September, the enrollment of the nation's public and private school's will hit 53 million—a record high and part of a trend with no end in sight.

"In this new century it's going to be up and then further up," predicts Secretary of Education Richard Reilly."You aren't going to have the breaks where you're up, then down."

The whole upward movement of school-aged kids is being called the "Baby Boom Echo" because its members are the grandchildren of the boomers. Adding to the increase is the rush of immigrants from many foreign lands anxious to live the American dream.

The trend affects the entire nation, but mostly the West and South. Texas and California bear the brunt.

Unlike prior "bubbles" or surges in school enrollment, this one will last at least a century, affecting both rich and poor communities and making teachers even more in demand than they are today.

In the affluent Washington, D.C. suburb of Fairfax County, Virginia, immigrants speaking 143 different languages have forced officials to hustle to find language teachers and temporary classrooms.

"We can't accommodate our students at the rate we're going, so we have trailers at just about every one of our schools," said Daniel Domenech, the superintendent of Fairfax County schools."We lovingly refer to them as 'learning cottages,' but they are trailers."

It's not just classrooms that are in short supply: Estimates are that the nation will have to find more than 2 million new teachers in the next decade.

As older teachers take advantage of often generous retirement packages, bidding wars for young teachers are underway, sometimes employing advertising gimmicks. Some districts have even bought expensive television airtime to implore educators to "contact us for teaching opportunities."

The recruiting battles even cut across national boundaries.

"We've also gone abroad and are starting to look for teachers even outside the United States to help with the shortage," said Sharyn Doyle, of the Anne Arundel County, Maryland public schools.


  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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