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Report: Number of NY Teachers Continues to Drop

By Kerry Longobucco.
The state's Teachers Retirement System's annual report shows the number of teachers in New York is continuing to drop.

According to the report, there are 13,000 fewer active educators than five years ago. 'Active educators' includes teachers aids, guidance counselors administrators and more.

College students have become less interested in pursuing a career in teaching -- which local educators say makes it harder to find qualified people to teach in specialty areas, like special education, or advanced placement studies. Officials say low education funding, frequent lay-offs, and demanding requirements and regulations have made the field less appealing.

"In the age of students trying to earn a career, they saw the number of lay-offs that had occurred in our community in our school districts," Allen Buyck, superintendent of Broome-Tioga BOCES, said. "Several years ago, we had hundreds of teachers that were laid off in our bad budget situation. I think the economy is a piece of it, and I think less and less students are going into that profession."

Officials say it's time for the state to do its part in attracting prospective teachers.

"We have to have salaries, and pension packages, and health benefits, and just make the whole thing look interesting," Catherine Farrell, of New York State United Teachers, said. "Entice the people that are coming out of higher education, to want to come into teaching in the Southern Tier."

As the number of teachers in New York State plummets -- the number of retiring teachers statewide continues to climb.

Officials say the baby boomer generation is behind this burst in new retires -- and it's contributing to a shortage of teachers during a time when less and less people are entering the field.

These frequent retires are even more concerning, because when they leave, they take with them years of experience and wisdom.

"We hate to lose the experience, the people that have worked with these kids. They are seasoned veterans that know what to do to get the kids motivated," Farrell said. "You hate to lose their ability to mentor the new people coming in."

BOCES officials hope new teachers can soak up some of that experience, before these veteran educators retire.

"We're hopeful that we can get new folks in, and work side by side with some of these senior folks before they leave," Buyck said. "When we know that someone's retiring, and a district can anticipate that retirement's going to happen, it would be great if we could have a new teacher work side by side with them, and learn some of the skills that teacher has gained over the years."