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Summit held in Syracuse on looming teacher shortage

Thomas Favre-Bulle
via Flickr

The state’s teacher union is trying to figure out how to deal with an impending teacher shortage in New York.

"Our teachers are nearing retirement, many of them. And we have seen a decline in the enrollment of teacher prep programs by as much as 47 percent," said Jolene DiBrango, Executive Vice President of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).

DiBrango said the shortage is being seen across the state, and across a number of different areas.

"In our rural areas, they’re having difficulties getting teachers in all areas," she said. "In other areas we’re seeing shortages in CTE and bilingual education. But we’re seeing shortages including elementary education in some parts of the state as well."

So NYSUT is holding summits across the state to try and figure out how to get more students and career changers to join the profession. One potential idea is loan forgiveness programs. At a summit in Syracuse Tuesday, Syracuse Teachers Association President Megan Root said loan forgiveness is something the city school district has had success with.

"We have partnerships with several local colleges and universities to have internships for teachers, and the district will pay for some or all of their education so that they're not coming out with massive debt," said Root. "And we get in return a commitment to stay in the district for a certain number of years."

The union will take ideas like this and put together legislative proposals to take to Albany.  DiBrango says the focus of the summits is also to find ways to improve diversity in the education workforce, and elevate the teaching profession as a whole.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.