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Schumer, Gillibrand Secure Funding to Recruit & Retain NY Teachers

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Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have announced that they secured a significant boost in federal funding to help alleviate New York State’s serious teacher shortage in the soon-to-pass bipartisan spending package.

Specifically, the senators rejected a federal proposal to eliminate the Title II Supporting Effective Instruction State (Title II) grant program, which provides funding to schools and districts to use for teacher recruitment and retention.

Instead, the senators say they were able to boost its funding to now more than $2B in value.

Their effort comes after it was revealed this year New York State has 21,000 fewer teachers than it had just a decade ago,

Sen. Charles Schumer

Sen. Charles Schumer

Access to a quality, public education is one of the bedrocks of our American society, and right now, that access is under threat across Upstate New York because of a teacher shortage. To keep up with escalating demand and increasing retirements, New York schools need to be hiring thousands of new teachers per year, and instead, the opposite is happening,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why in negotiations for the soon-to-pass bipartisan spending deal, I fought tooth and nail to reject the administration’s proposed elimination of the Title II program, and instead increased funding for it. With the education of countless Upstate New Yorkers at stake, I’ll keep working until this teacher shortage is expelled.”

To illustrate the worsening of the teacher shortage across New York State, Schumer and Gillibrand pointed to an October 2018 report from New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) which estimates that over the next decade, New York State schools will have to hire 10,000-18,000 new teachers per year to keep up with the rising demand.

Nationally, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that United States schools would need to hire 1.6 million new teachers over the next decade to match demand.

The 2018 NYSUT report also reveals that statewide, since 2009-2010, enrollment in teacher education programs in New York State has decreased by roughly 47%, from over 79,000 students in 2009-10 to just over 41,000 students in 2015-16.

Additionally, the report also cites a statistic from the 2017 New York State Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Comprehensive Annual Financial Report showing that at the time, over 50,000 TRS members were over the age of 55, with another 35,000 members being between the ages of 50-54.

In total, the report estimates that over the coming five years, roughly one third of the TRS workforce will be at the age of retirement. Schumer argued that these statistics and estimates demonstrate a clear and present need to recruit new teachers and incentivize people to enter the field, before it’s too late.

Furthermore, the NYSUT report lists what the Department of Education acknowledged in 2016-17 as recognized teacher shortage issue areas in New York State, specifically referencing: Bilingual Education; Special Education, All Grades; English as a Second Language; Early Childhood; Visual Arts; Dance; Reading/Literacy; Social Studies; Career and Technical Education; Special Education, Bilingual; English Language Arts; Elementary Education; Music; Mathematics; Sciences; and Theater.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

“Teachers play a critical role in ensuring that our children have access to a high-quality and well-rounded education that will prepare them for their future,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The teacher shortages across New York state and the country over the last few years underscore how vitally important it is to retain top teachers and invest in them. I am proud Congress rejected the President’s proposal to cut this important program and instead is choosing to provide teachers with more resources and training. Supporting teachers is supporting students and the future of our state and country.”

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