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'Historic partnership' launched to address teacher shortage

Eileen Buckley File Photo

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia have announced what they call a "historic partnership" to address New York’s teaching shortage by transforming teacher preparation. Launching TeachNY in Albany, they unveiled the findings of a distinguished group of state and national thought leaders convened by SUNY, and launched a listening tour to receive feedback from educators throughout the state.Informed by the report, TeachNY will be a campaign to promote the teaching profession while also improving the state’s delivery of teacher preparation programs by expanding clinical practice, generating investment for professional development that spans the career of a teacher, and creating regional councils to ensure future teachers will meet projected demand. Following the campaign, the chancellor will recommend a new SUNY policy to its Board of Trustees.

“We know that excellently trained teachers are the number one in-school factor for student success, and so we must create a system through which every student, without exception, has access to great teaching,” said Zimpher, who began her career as a teacher. “As New York and the nation face a massive teacher shortage, there is no time to waste. By lifting up the teaching profession and transforming the way we not only prepare - but continually support - teachers, TeachNY will ensure that New York has the cadre of high quality teachers that our state and our students deserve going forward.”

“Study after study confirms what we already know from common sense - a good teacher is absolutely critical to student success in the classroom. So I am thrilled that the TeachNY Advisory Council has come up with a set of concrete recommendations to improve the ways in which we prepare teachers," said Elia. "

"I am equally thrilled that practitioners around the state will have a chance to weigh in on the recommendations. Of course, many of the recommendations will require regulatory action by the Board of Regents before they are implemented, but the historic partnership we’re announcing today is an essential first step to increasing the pool of highly successful teachers in New York,” she said.

The report estimates that New York’s need for teachers will grow by nearly 6 percent by 2022, or an average of 1,700 teachers per year. Nationally, approximately 1.6 million teachers will be needed in the next decade.

The report asserts that the most successful teachers are content-area experts as well as pedagogical masters, and outlines strategies for schools, colleges and communities continue to collectively produce such teachers. Key findings include:

·    Launch a public service campaign to promote the teaching profession.
·    Improve and disseminate educator-labor market data in an effort to better match graduates with district teaching needs.
·    Recruit a diverse pool of excellent teachers.
·    Enhance high-needs recruitment through an Urban-Rural Teacher Corps to recruit and support teachers dedicated to the special needs of these schools.
·    Increase clinical experiences for pre-service teachers.
·    Incentivize public schools through an established funding structure to host teachers-in-training.
·    Create a career ladder to signal and reward professional milestones.
·    Create a continuum of professional development and advancement, and increase National Board Certification, as less than 1 percent of New York’s public school teachers are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching.