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State’s two top educators in Buffalo to warn of teacher shortage

The state’s two top educators will be in town Tuesday to warn about a teacher shortage and discuss plans that encourage prospects to consider a career in the teaching field.

Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, and Mary Ellen Elia, commissioner of the state Education Department, will be at the University at Buffalo South Campus on Main Street Tuesday afternoon, the fourth stop on the duo’s state-wide “listening tour” for the TeachNY initiative.

Launched in May, TeachNY is a campaign aimed at promoting the teaching profession amid projections of a looming national shortage and the need for a projected 1.6 million teachers over the next decade with the baby-boomers retiring.

The need for teachers in New York State would grow about 5.8 percent by 2022, or roughly 1,700 teachers a year, according to statistics from the state Department of Labor.

Figures show a 3.9 percent spike in Western New York by 2022, or an additional 90 teachers a year.

The profession, meanwhile, has struggled to attract new recruits at a time teachers are being held more accountable for student performance and face tough new teacher evaluations.

In fact, enrollment in teacher-preparation programs are down 40 percent since 2009.

A report by the TeachNY Advisory Council recommended, among other things, expanding in-school teacher training, more investment in professional development for teachers and recruiting a more diverse pool of teachers.

Zimpher and Elia are on the listening tour to get feedback from school teachers and administrators, as well as college faculty.

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