The reasons are many: Teachers from the Baby Boom and Gen X generations are reaching retirement, some are leaving the profession for other reasons entirely, and on college campuses nationwide, enrollments in teacher education programs have dropped dramatically.
The COVID–19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.
In a recent nationwide poll by the National Education Association, a NYSUT national affiliate, 28 percent of respondents said they now had plans to leave the profession earlier than they expected due to the pandemic. The situation is dire, indeed. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has estimated that between this year and 2022, there will be a need for 1.6 million new teachers nationwide.
Through efforts like Take a Look at Teaching, NYSUT has been tackling this crisis head-on. The statewide union has led the way on stemming the shortage — and continues to do so — by:
Still, while significant strides have been made in New York, the shortage here — like elsewhere — continues to loom.
According to the 2021 New York State Teachers’ Retirement System Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, 90,500 in-service TRS members are over the age of 50.
If there is good news, it’s that union-led programs have been helping districts replenish and diversify their teaching workforce. For example, the Grow Your Own program — made possible by NEA funds — provides grants to local unions to recruit and retain educators. The program is another example of how, no matter the challenges confronting the profession, NYSUT will continue to lead the effort to reverse the teaching shortage.