Higher education tackling teacher shortage

Jan 2, 2017

With a nationwide teacher shortage, some districts are conducting recruitment programs. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says those in higher education are trying to reach students to become new school teachers.

 

Inside a school classroom in West Seneca.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Brianna Ware is a new elementary school teacher in Houston, Texas. Ware is the

Brianna Ware, Buffalo State graduate, is now a new teacher at Ashford Elementary here in Houston, Texas
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

first and only student to complete a new program at SUNY Buffalo State. This program began in the college's education department this past fall. It allows students to conduct their student teaching in Buffalo and complete the second half in Houston, Texas.

“It sounded so amazing. I’ve actually just finished the program, so my degree’s officially completed and it was a really great experience,” Ware said.

Ware is now a second grade teacher at the Houston school. She tells us she decided to leave Buffalo and New York State because she found a better opportunity.

“I decided to leave Buffalo for a teaching job simply because there’s an abundance of jobs in other places and also, some places offer a little more in regards to the salary, so it made it a little easier for me,” Ware remarked.

“I like to think about Brianna as a pioneer. I like to think of her getting in a covered wagon and going out to Texas,” said Dr. Wendy Paterson, Dean of Education at Buffalo State.

Paterson admits this program does create the risk of losing future teachers to other markets.

Dr. Wendy Paterson, Dean of Education at Buffalo State, in her office discussing programs and teacher shortage.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“It is kind of a bittersweet thing because you are exporting your greatest treasure, but I would rather that they are prepared for a teaching market anywhere in the world,” Paterson noted.

“Are you criticized for that?” asked Buckley.

“Well you have to weigh – I’m obviously a Buffalo State product and I stayed home during a time when it was very much like this and it was challenging. I lost my job every year for seven years, so you can’t be faint of heart if you want to stick it out, but a lot of times, what happens is they will go for their first job and they return, they come home,” responded Paterson. 

Paterson explained the teacher shortage in New York State depends on where you are located. 

“[In] New York City, it’s critical. It is severe. Some of the rural districts, really difficult to get teachers, but the shortage itself is starting to spread across the state,” Paterson replied.

There are specific areas of have suffered teaching shortages for many years.

“You know, special education, mathematics, all of the STEM areas, getting qualified teachers in the sciences in the schools and also getting second language teachers that are in our urban schools and also in our rural schools has always been a challenge,” said Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and a former Buffalo State president. 

Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and a former Buffalo State president, in our WBFO studio.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The national organization is working with institutions to promote teaching as a rewarding career.

“Actually, teacher preparation is one of the most important things we do in this country, because it’s a 360-degree circumference in that we teach and prepare the teachers that are going to go out in the schools and teach and then those students are going to come back to us,” Howard explained. 

New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee tells us the 'million dollar question' is how you retain good teachers to state in New York. 

“So that training, particularly we are looking at Central and Western New York – if we start to not have programs there that feed the public school system with teachers, we are not going to get people to just pick up and lift themselves and go to these areas. We have to maintain these programs in the areas where teachers are needed.  You know we are working on a task force,” Magee stated.

Magee also points to out 'teacher preparation program' must be vetted out and improve “huddles and obstacles” that preventing some from going through the process.

“We have found it’s discriminatory toward minorities. We have found the cost involved in some of the ridiculous testing pieces that are in place – such as the Ed TPA – are issues that we are currently working on,” Magee said.

Teacher Ware tells us she highly recommends the teacher training program she just completed, but she encourages the state to create better incentives to keep new teachers here in Buffalo.

“It is unfortunately, but I think that if there were better culture, a little in regards to the salary, then that would attract a lot of high-quality teachers,” Ware said.