ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York state has a teacher shortage, and the growing deficiency of available teachers is only made worse by the pandemic. 

According to NYSUT, New York State United Teachers, enrollment in New York state’s teacher education programs has declined by 50.4 % since 2009.

“We all have a teacher we remember from our childhood who influenced us, who saw something in us that we didn’t see in ourselves,” Laura Franz, Albany High School teacher and President of APSTA, said. “We change the world.”

Franz said recently teaching has gotten a “bad rep,” and the pressures of mandated testing, data collection, and the added jobs that teachers are required to do are all contributing factors. Additionally, the pandemic’s added strain on teachers hasn’t helped the shortage of college students going into the field.

However, Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT Executive Vice President, said the problem isn’t a new one.

“It’s been an emergency,” DiBrango said. “Covid has really sped up the urgency of getting more students in the pipeline.”

According to NYSUT, around one-third of New York’s teaching population will be eligible to retire in the coming years. 

“Whether they’re at a place to retire, I know that this pandemic has pushed some people over that edge,” Franz said. 

Franz added that students are having a hard time meeting their student-teacher requirements to fill those jobs. 

“The student teachers were there, we just couldn’t get school districts to agree to take them on,” DiBrango said. 

“There’s going to be a tipping point where someone is going to say, as a student, that I’ve tried to get all my requirements, but I can’t get my student-teaching in. So, I’m going to pursue something else,” Franz said. 

Although NYSUT and APSTA are hopeful that vaccinations will improve those numbers, they’re still concerned about what could happen to schools if the student-to-teacher pipeline doesn’t become a priority.

“We’re dealing with students that have been through an incredible trauma,” DiBrango said. 

DiBrango added that while recovering from the trauma the pandemic has caused, students will need those smaller classes to provide the one-on-one attention that they need to recover and continue to learn.