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Panel To Discuss Improving Job Market For Teachers

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During the Great Recession, schools had to make difficult choices. In New York, as state aid was pulled back, many schools had to lay-off staff and eliminate programs.

But a few years later, as the economy improved, the job market for teachers began to improve as well. Catherine Snyder is Chair of the Education Department at Union Graduate College in Schenectady.

“For the most part, schools have moved through the worst part of the budget crisis, and they’re reconstituting jobs that were eliminated. As student populations grow and schools make adjustments, they’re finding that they need to add the faculty.”

But there’s another issue. Snyder says many college-age men and women are shying away from teaching. She pointed out that a student graduating a four-year college today would have been a senior in high school when many of the layoffs and cutbacks were occurring.

The political controversy surrounding new teaching standards and evaluations may also have turned off many young people.

Snyder hopes that a panel discussion involving teachers and administrators this Saturday at Union Graduate College can help change the minds of young people who may have been discouraged from teaching.

“Our goal is to put information out there as to what teaching as a career looks like, what salary and benefits are, but also talk about what are the rewarding aspects of being a teacher, and why is it considered a profession, and why is good that teaching has high standards, and what are the options out there?”

Elizabeth Wood, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at the Shenendehowa School District, says demand for teachers is up. In the last year, the district hired 70 new instructors.

But, she says, the pool of applicants is shrinking, particularly for middle and high school math, science and English-as-a-second-language positions.

“I can also say some of the language positions; Latin teachers, Chinese teachers, are very difficult to find. And we’re even finding where there has been typically been a large number of candidates for positions such as English teachers, social studies teachers, and even Elementary school teachers, that the sheer number of applicants has decreased significantly over the last several years.”

And there’s always a need for educators. Pete Mody, now Assistant Principal for 9th and 11th grades at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, was an English and social studies teacher for 12 years.

Mody says many teachers in the Baby Boomer generation were lost in recent years through cuts or attrition.

“Teachers were getting cut or retiring teachers just weren’t filled, but it doesn’t stop the need. The human population continues to grow, the Capital District continues to grow, and because of that, the need for educators, I think, is continuing to grow.”

The workshop “Teach: Be a Professional, Create Professionals” will be held this Saturday, January 9th, beginning at 9:30 a.m. For more information click here.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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