Letter to the Editor: There is no teacher shortage

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To the Editor:

Regarding Kaylee Johnson’s article, So You Want to Be an Educator? in the November, 2017 issue, she states, “there is currently a teacher shortage” in New York State.

There’s no teacher shortage in New York State.

I’ve been through the process of becoming a teacher twice. The first time around I was a photojournalism major and art education minor in college in the 1980s. I received a NYS provisional certification in art, kindergarten through 12th grade, in 1986.

It was a lot of work – I took 22 credits one semester – but it was do-able.

I wound up in the movie business for 20 years. In 2009, I decided to renew my certification which had expired several years before.

This time the requirements had changed and there were more hoops to jump through, which I did. This included going back to college for three courses and taking three new tests. The National Teachers Exam, which I took in 1986, no longer counts.

Requirements keep getting added. Plus school districts are more likely to hire candidates with a specialty certification and a special education certification. Oh, and then they want you to speak Spanish, too.

I met one recent graduate who had gone back for her special education certification and was told by a district they wanted a third certification. She said to me, “I’m just not going back for another.”

And they want you to have experience. Not just any experience, but at the same level for the job to which you’re applying. If it’s a high school job, but you only worked on the elementary level, you’re out of the running. I’ve been told by more than one district that there were literally hundreds of applicants for the job I applied for.

Often the application is pages long, including essays. Often the interview process takes three passes. Often candidates have to give a lesson to a class.

The permanent certification NYS once had is gone.

Now there’s “professional development” where teachers have to endlessly attend seminars to remain certified. I’ve read that most new teachers don’t make it past their second year because the requirements are too suffocating.

Then administrators are often on the opposite side of teachers. Freedom of speech does not apply to teachers. Anything you say, or post of social media, can and will be used against you.

Between the endless requirements being added by the state and the endless requirements demanded by the districts, if there’s a teacher shortage, it’s self-inflicted.

Dave Paone
Long Island, NY