Roebuck: Pa. legislature passes bill to provide more substitute teachers

HARRISBURG, July 13 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, welcomed passage of legislation designed to increase the number of available substitute teachers in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.

"I have introduced two bills to reduce the substitute teacher shortage, and I'm pleased this legislation would take a major step forward in achieving that goal," Roebuck said.

The education bill that passed the House and Senate today (H.B. 1606) would allow some university students who are training to be teachers to serve as substitute teachers for limited time periods. They would have to pass background checks and would be limited to substituting for 10 days per school year for any one teacher and 40 days overall per calendar year.

"Substitute teachers play a vital role in maintaining momentum and continuity in the classroom. When students’ regularly assigned teachers are unavailable due to illness, hiring shortages or professional development needs, substitute teachers help fill in the gaps so student learning is not interrupted," Roebuck said.

"When substitutes are not available, many schools rely on other teachers to fill in during their prep periods – time that should be dedicated to thoughtful planning, professional collaboration or other academic preparation. When neither substitutes nor a teacher on a prep period are available, students must do without a teacher in their classroom for a day, a week or even longer. Without a pool of consistently available, qualified substitutes, schools can become caught in a frenetic – and expensive – game of catch-up throughout the year and students pay the price."

The legislation now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf.