SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia were at SUNY Plattsburgh Friday afternoon to wrap up their statewide TeachNY listening tour.
TeachNY is an initiative to enhance the teaching profession and ensure the state has enough future educators. The effort aims to promote the image of teachers and recruit more people to the career.
On May 18th the Chancellor and Commissioner launched TeachNY by issuing a report with recommendations on how the state could lift up the teaching profession.
New York’s top two education leaders have been meeting with teachers, administrators, students, faculty and others during regional discussions to gather ideas on teacher preparation, professional support, partnerships, teacher shortages, retention and other issues facing educators.
After listening to work groups, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says they realized that the discourse about teachers must shift to include motivating more students to enroll in teacher prep programs. “If you look at the data it is clear that we have across the state of New York we have openings virtually in every school for teachers. Fast forward to 2022 that is going to be a massive problem in New York state, like it is across the country.”
An initial report offered 64 recommendations to enhance the teaching profession. A 22-member roundtable will hone the comments and ideas from the listening tour to craft policies and initiatives. Zimpher believes a campaign is needed to support the image and importance of teachers. “If we get teacher leadership right we’ve solved one of the problems of enticing people into the profession because they see a lattice of opportunity and that’s why they would go into teaching. So we actually can solve a lot of problems with good ideas that affect the whole enterprise.”
SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling says enrollments in teacher education programs across the country have been down, but is optimistic that initiatives like TeachNY are reversing the trend. “We’ve got great programs but we need students for those programs. And people like the Chancellor and the Commissioner using this bully pulpit to encourage people to go into teaching will help accelerate what I think is a process that’s already underway which is bringing people back. Not just because they know that there is employment on the other end, but I think some of the negativity surrounding the profession is ameliorating. So I hope that’s the case. We sure need the teachers.”
North Country Thrive works across sectors to improve education outcomes. Director Brittany Trybendis hopes new awareness campaigns like TeachNY will help build teaching careers. “I think it’s moving forward and remembering that teachers serve our kids first and they’re the most unique and primary, most important, factor in a kids classroom and education. And we need to start putting our best foot forward to make sure that we have a good pool of applicants moving forward or we’re going to be in rough shape in the next few years.”
According to the State University of New York, there will be a need for 1.6 million new teachers nationwide within the next decade.