Stay-at-home-mom Cindy DePace was just hitting 30 when she decided to return to the work force by going back to school and becoming a teacher.
She loved working with kids, could be home in the summer with her own children and had always heard that someone with an education degree would never have trouble finding a job.
Five years later, she has a degree in early childhood education and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to repay, but no teaching job. Instead, she files records at a law firm in South Carolina's capital.
For decades, the growing number of children in the U.S. and efforts in many states to lower class sizes created a high demand for teachers. Private-sector workers who lost their jobs or were looking for a mid-career change often were encouraged to return to school and earn a teaching credential, while states set up shortcuts to get them licenses.
But the Great Recession and its ripple effects on the state and local tax dollars that fund public schools have upended the conventional wisdom that a teaching job is a golden ticket to career stability.