Statewide teacher shortage prompts Take a Look at Teaching summit in the Heights

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ELMIRA HEIGHTS, N.Y. (WETM) – Teachers throughout the Southern Tier are brainstorming ways to fix the statewide teacher shortage tonight at Thomas Edison High School.

The New York State United Teachers came to discuss pressing issues with local teachers at the summit.

The two issues they focused on were the need for additional funding for public higher education and the teacher shortage.

Teachers sat together to talk about the problems behind why people aren’t going into the education field as a career.

Jolene DiBrango, the New York State United Teachers Executive Vice President, spoke about the shortage.

She says according to the teacher retirement system, New York needs 180,000 teachers in the next 10 years or there may be a crisis in the State.

Teachers had heated discussions on reasons why students aren’t looking to becoming a teacher.

“It’s been years since a student told me, ‘I think I’m going into teaching’ it’s unheard of anymore. When you push them a little and say well why not? They say, ‘The way you’re treated, I couldn’t do what you do.'”

“Every single person I talk to I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to go to school for education,’ and they’re like, ‘Don’t do it.'”

“I know it’s student behavior and methods of discipline are the issue.”

Teachers from the Southern Tier

Even the Heights School District was having trouble finding employees according to Michael Gill, the Superintendent of the district.

“We currently don’t have a certified Spanish teacher,” said Michael Gill. “We’ve had an opening for a long time and we’ve gone so far as to calling colleges and universities recruiting to try to bring in a candidate that’s qualified.”

DiBrango says this is an ongoing issue that stemmed from years ago.

“Even 10 years ago, a real shift, a negative shift towards education,” said DiBrango. “We’ve really tried to take back our profession. We are trying to make changes in teacher evaluation which we were very successful in doing last year. We’re still working on making our testing system fair for all students here in NY state. So I think a lot of those improvements have turned things around.”

The New York State United Teachers hopes to have started the conversation and brought awareness to these issues through the summits.

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