NYSUT President Karen Magee joined other education experts Thursday morning at the Albany Business Review’s Education Power Breakfast.
Guests descended upon the historic Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia, Schenectady County, for coffee, pastries and, of course, a discussion of pressing educational issues.
Moderator Mike DeMasi, a senior reporter from the Albany Business Review, turned first to the teacher shortage, asking about the problems it poses, and how to address them moving forward.
“It’s up to us to stoke that fire to engage people into this profession,” answered Magee, “because an energized, enthusiastic, committed teacher is absolutely necessary for our students to succeed.”
Magee said it ultimately comes down to public perception and respect: “We have to look at some of the things that are going on in the climate of this country right now, and the climate in this state. And what we’re seeing is a complete and total lack of respect for educators.” This includes the refusal to engage educators in educational policy process, she added.
The discussion then turned to Common Core Standards, a policy that many felt left educators out of the process and was implemented without the proper time, tools or resources. The panel was united in stressing the need for the development and rollout of future educational policies to include parents and teachers from the start.
“… In the end, we need to ensure that New York’s students are well served,” stressed Magee.
Other panelists included MaryEllen Elia, commissioner of the state Education Department; Timothy Kremer, executive director of they state School Boards Association; Bob Horan, superintendent of the Schodack Central School District; and Denise Zieske, vice president of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Schenectady County Community College.
The panelists agreed that, above all, what is needed is a change in public perception to better support and encourage those entering the teaching profession. Many in the audience were members of the regional business community and panelists reminded them that it is in their interest to nurture the students who will become the next generation of employees. Student success is inextricably linked to the effectiveness of their teachers.
The discussion Thursday reinforced the fact that there are very few ways to better promote student success than supporting teachers.
— Valerie Kaufmann
Communications Department Intern