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NYC educators worried about teacher shortage

Posted at 6:32 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 18:32:55-04

NEW YORK CITY — New York City educators are worried about a possible teacher shortage with the first day of class looming.

One guidance counselor told PIX11 she'd been asked to teach. PIX11 has heard from several teachers asked to teach outside their certification.

Bronx high school film teacher Jacob Stebel said teachers wouldn't be able to give their best efforts to students if asked to teach subjects they weren't qualified in.

“It’s really terrifying. A lot of teachers are already so uncomfortable teaching something outside of their wheelhouse," he said. "We want to promote equity and give the best to students and what this does is the exact opposite.”

He said there "100 percent" was a teacher shortage.

School was meant to resume Sept. 10, but the opening was delayed until Sept. 21. Teachers are using that time to prepare for students.

"We were supposed to have kids in school today," Stebel said. "This was supposed to be the first day and what this shows is that we were not remotely ready and we're still not ready for the 21st."

Of the 75,000 NYC public school teachers, 16,000 have been approved for reasonable accommodations to work remotely, which accounts for 21% of teachers, according to the Department of Education.

Stebel is one of the educators who will be teaching remotely.

“There are some cases where we don’t have enough teachers to cover periods blended students would need for when they’re in person," he said.

A DOE spokesperson said the Education Department will have the teachers they need to reopen.

“We will have high-quality teachers and staff in place for a safe reopening," the spokesperson said. "Schools are now able to hire within their budgets for teacher vacancies in most licenses and we are following State guidance and providing instruction in a safe and secure manner for our students.”

But teachers feel there isn't enough staff. Some are worried they'll be asked to teach subjects they aren't qualified to teach.

The state education department is now allowing teachers to teach up to 10 classroom hours a week outside of their certification when a certified teacher is not available.

A Brooklyn high school social science teacher, who asked PIX11 to conceal his identity out of fear of retaliation from the city, said he'd be in trouble if he were put in a match class.

"It’s a whole different story," he said. "I don’t have that background knowledge.”