Since 2010, the number of teachers certified annually in PA has fallen from over 20,000 per year to fewer than 7,000 per year. Over the past decade, teacher prep program enrollment has declined nationally by one-third, while PA’s teacher prep program enrollment has declined by over two-thirds.
Following the pandemic, teacher attrition has increased slightly while demand for teachers has also increased with the influx of federal stimulus dollars and greater focus on the academic and mental health needs of students, resulting in districts across the state competing to hire from a shrinking supply of highly qualified educators.
At a teacher shortage summit that I participated in this past Fall, there was general agreement among participants regarding some of the major impacts of the educator shortage:
- Larger class sizes and less time for individualized student support
- Increased workloads, stress levels, and burnout rates among current teachers due to lost prep periods and increased responsibilities covering for vacancies, leading to higher absence and resignation rates.
- Principals and district leaders covering classes when teachers are not available, reducing their ability to support school improvement efforts and other priorities.
- Loss of learning and positive, stable relationships for students.
- Inability to comply with individualized education plans for students with disabilities and other legal requirements due to insufficient staff.
Our Elevate Teachers package includes bills that will:
- Raise the minimum salary for education professionals from $18,500 to $50,000 initially, and then by an additional $2,500 annually until it reaches $60,000. (Rep. Kim)
- Create a grant program to support high-need schools in geographic areas that have hard-to-staff teaching positions by recruiting students, paraprofessionals, and parents to pursue teaching in their local school district (Rep. Schlossberg)
- Create a grant program for colleges to create or expand programs for paraprofessionals to become certified teachers (Rep. Rigby)
- Create a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (Rep. Young)
- Up to $40k over 4 years for teaching in PA
- Create a Teacher Scholarship Program (Rep. Rozzi)
- Up to $32k over 4 years for students enrolled in teaching program within state system
- Create a support/mentor program for first-year teachers in districts with high turnover (Rep. Kinsey & Rep. Hill-Evans)