NYS Exposed: Finding teachers difficult amid NY shortage of qualified applicants

September 08, 2017 09:40 AM

In a statewide trend, New York has fewer active teachers and a dwindling pool of potential college candidates.

Thousands of kids went back to school this week along with thousands of teachers. However, finding those teachers for your children proved a significant challenge for administrators this summer.


Gene Mancuso, Superintendent of Honeoye Falls-Lima says, "Anything of special area from special education for older kids to technology classes to science to math, really difficult to place."

Mancuso is also the president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents.

“I used to get 500 applicants for a single position, a recent position we only had 40 applicants for it. The pool of applicants is low, [and] the pool of substitutes is almost gone,” he continues. “We're all competing for the same set of candidates and when you talk to colleges, there's not really students in programs headed towards us."

Over the past ten years, the SUNY system has lost fifty percent of all education students.

"When you see a shortage show up, that's only the tip of the iceberg…behind it is a huge wave that will make a bad situation worse,” says Adam Urbanski, President of the Rochester Teachers Union.

Urbanski says the Rochester City School District started hiring in January for this year - hiring more than 200 new teachers. However, the district still has classrooms staffed by substitutes as the school year begins.

"You won't have a classroom absent a teacher. The concern should be whether or not that teacher is truly certificated and qualified to teach in that particular field,” says Urbanski.

Governor Cuomo has pointed to low starting salaries coupled with Master's level student debt.

Local leaders point back at state regulation. Urbanski offers his thoughts on the causes of teacher shortages.

"Micro-management of teaching and learning from the state and federal level has alienated a lot of people who would otherwise love to go into teaching,” he says.

Local districts have had to get creative, whether that means re-hiring hundreds of retired teachers, searching out-of-state for certain fields, or even paying current teachers to obtain additional specialization by going back to college. Mancuso speaks to the fear that is settling in at schools statewide, not only of the immediate shortage issues, but the ones to come in the near future.

"We're on the front end of that curve, I think we can just all see that curve coming where we're able to staff, but we can already feel the collar tightening and I think that's where we're worried about what happens next summer.


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