Kelsey Carlo, Staff Writer
Currently, there is a major teacher shortage that has not only affected districts locally but nationwide as well. In just 31 states, 82,000 positions are filled by underqualified teachers and at least 5,000 are unfilled altogether, according to Ed Prep Matters.
Patrice Hallock, professor and chair of the education department, explains why this shortage is happening.
“There has been implementation of new teaching standards, new teacher preparation, learning common core, higher GPA and new exams that students are intimidated to take,” Hallock said. “The recession in 2008 has had a big factor on this as well when a lot of teachers were laid off. For the past six years, I haven’t seen much interest in people wanting to teach.”
While this problem has sprung up nationally, New York state and local districts are also suffering.
“We have a bulge of retirements happening in-state very soon,” Hallock said. “A large area of the workforce will be leaving, and there isn’t a big enough influx of teachers coming in.”
According to the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), within the next five years, more than one-third of nearly 270,000 active members could be eligible to retire.
Hallock says Utica College has been helpful with its teacher preparation program, but they are still looking for students to help.
“Any student that is in the Arts and Sciences program, with majors that range from biology to sociology, should really consider taking up teaching,” Hallock said. “I would tell any of those students to really considerate it with the shortage going on.”
Senior education student and president of the Education Club Amber Thrasher explains that although the requirements to become a teacher are intimidating, they are well worth it.
“I think that with any job, you need to put in the effort and have the passion for it to overcome any obstacles that come into play,” Thrasher said. “I think the more education, experience and the more support someone has will decrease the shortage. I have learned so much from my professors at UC that I feel confident that anyone who goes through the program will be a great educator.”
Senior Asia Rosa, who is also studying education, says that although this shortage is quite frightening it seems to happen quite often.
“I personally think this shortage is normal for teachers because teaching opportunities fluctuate,” Rosa said. “We are at a low right now because education was not encouraged a few years ago because the job outlook was not too bright. The shortage is just a supply and demand dynamic now.”
Rosa also explains that she is very confident that she will receive a job following graduation but is worried for other education students.
“Since my content area is science (chemistry) and adolescent education, I will not have a problem finding a job opportunity after graduation,” Rosa said. “I think I have an uncommon and unique interest that sets me apart from the common pursuit of education. The teaching shortage scares me for current students that aspire to take what they learn in higher education to grade school. At this point, individuals who have little to no experience teaching are given the opportunity to teach in schools, which is not effective for students.”
The Education Department will be having an information night on their graduate program for anyone who is interested on Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Cynkus Family Welcome Center.