New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks rejected the idea that a nationwide teacher shortage has hurt the Big Apple, even as the number of city teachers has declined significantly and more immigrant students are enrolling in public schools.
Banks insisted the shortage was not a local problem at city schools, but acknowledged that the number of immigrant students at the school had risen to 26,000 while the number of teachers fell by 2,000 last fall.
“It’s interesting. The national teacher shortage is even more acute in many other places around the country,” Banks said.
“We’re doing pretty well here in New York City. We don’t have a major teacher shortage. We have long-standing shortages in some critical areas such as math, special education and bilingual education.”
Banks waved the question in response to a question during an event with Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday at the Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn. He said officials need to monitor the situation as the number of immigrant students continues to increase enrollment.
He also acknowledged that the DOE has had “long-standing” problems with staffing in critical areas such as bilingualism and special education.
He noted that recent initiatives would allow some DOE teachers who hold elementary school licenses in one subject to upgrade to their secondary license in bilingual education, which could be helpful in teaching young migrants.
Banks said there were about 21,000 migrants in classrooms a few days ago, before that number rose to over 26,000.
The DOE ended last year with about 18,000 immigrant students in the system, which includes about 1 million students.
“So the numbers are increasing significantly,” Banks said. “So we must continue to assess where we are and whether we are able to meet this moment.”
According to data released earlier this summer, the number of teachers fell by more than 2,000 from the 2019-20 school year to the 2022-23 school year.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic and at its worst, the number of teachers was more than 78,000, but last fall that number fell to fewer than 76,000.
While the number of teachers fell about 3% in the five years ending last fall, the number of students fell 10% over the same period, according to the Energy Department.