NYSUT is committed to advancing solutions to the state's looming teacher shortage — a complex problem that requires comprehensive remedies.
"We are developing what will be a long-term campaign that will attract bright, talented, dedicated students and adults to the profession," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango. "As a teacher, I can say with confidence that we enter our profession inspired by a love for what we do. That hasn't changed. But the next generation faces unprecedented roadblocks on the path to teaching. NYSUT has made progress in tackling some of these road blocks — yet more needs to be done."
Working with United University Professions and the Professional Staff Congress, NYSUT's higher education affiliates, the statewide union spearheaded recent improvements to the teacher certification process. Similarly, the union's success in standing up to the state's "test-and-punish" approach to teacher evaluations has improved the climate for teaching and learning, but much work remains.
DiBrango said the union's research arm is developing a statewide inventory of district and campus programs with proven success in recruiting, preparing and retaining teachers.
"There are many strong programs for mentoring and providing ongoing support to future teachers, but in too many cases they are starved of resources," DiBrango said.
Jamie Dangler, vice president for academics of UUP, NYSUT's affiliate at SUNY, agrees: "SUNY has many quality programs — developed in collaboration with local districts and dedicated to mentoring teachers — but a lack of resources limits their reach."
In a recent meeting with leaders of the Syracuse TA, DiBrango embarked on what will be continuing conversations across the state with members and leaders on educational issues, including the teacher shortage.
Syracuse TA President Megan Root said the shortage is already on many districts' doorsteps.
"We have had a hard time recruiting," Root said. Strategies to attract and keep staff include an improvement in starting salary and an urban fellowship program that holds great promise for teacher retention.
"NYSUT is launching our campaign for the long haul," DiBrango said. "We know we can't solve this problem alone, and we know we're not alone in this work. Together with our locals, we'll identify and advance ways to encourage kids to go into the profession and help them along the way."