SUNY SHORTAGE: Teaching programs plummet

11.25.16 | Bob Price

Teaching programs throughout the State University of New York system have experienced roughly a 40 percent decline in enrollment over the past five years, records show.

Education officials attributed the decline to an increase in standardized testing and tougher evaluations, saying it has hurt the reputation of the profession.

The drop has raised concerns with leaders of SUNY and the state Education Department, who are trying to combat what they estimate will be a massive teaching shortage in the near future.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia launched TeachNY in May to bolster the teaching ranks, saying New York will need 1.6 million new teachers over the next decade to replace retiring ones.

“We are experiencing a lack of interest in teaching as a career,” Zimpher said. “Too many of our teacher graduates couldn’t find employment in the classroom -- and that is transitioning to a teacher shortage over the next decade.”

The problem is pronounced at SUNY, the largest public university system in the nation which was founded in 1948 in large part as a consolidation of the state’s teaching colleges.

But experts said the problem is also happening in private schools in New York and across the country.