Legislators and education advocates rally in support of ‘Grow Your Own Educator’ teacher recruitment programs

HARRISBURG, June 12 – As schools across Pennsylvania face increasing teacher vacancies, state Sen. Carolyn Comitta and state Rep. Mike Schlossberg brought together educators and education advocates to support funding “Grow Your Own Educator” teacher recruitment programs in Pennsylvania.

“Teachers are an inspiring force in fostering the success of our children and it’s important that we do everything we can to help meet the workforce demands of our education system,” said Comitta, a former public-school teacher and member of the Senate Education Committee. “The ‘Grow Your Own Educator’ model is a proven way to build a pipeline of high-quality educators -- educators who are invested in and representative of the communities they serve. It’s time that we bring these programs to Pennsylvania to support schools, students and families.”

“Grow Your Own Educator” programs are designed to recruit and retain teachers from within the communities they will teach and serve. Both Comitta and Schlossberg have introduced legislation to fund these programs in high-need regions of Pennsylvania.

“On Monday, the House of Representatives voted to invest billions of dollars into education over the next seven years. However, if there are no educators to teach our children, this vote will not matter. Pennsylvania’s educator shortage is hurting our students,” said Schlossberg. “Our ‘Grow Your Own’ effort builds a pipeline to get today’s students from high school all the way to the front of the classroom where they will return as educators. These programs work and they connect people from the community already involved in education to become world-class educators.”

Joining Comitta and Schlossberg on the Capitol steps in support of these programs were educators and education advocates, including the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

“There are support staff in our public schools who have proven experience serving students and would make excellent teachers,” said PSEA Vice President Jeff Ney. “They just don’t have a path forward. In many cases, the cost of going back to college is prohibitively expensive for them. Creating a ‘Grow Your Own’ program will open the door for more of these folks to become teachers and make a difference in the lives of thousands of students.”

The “Grow Your Own Educators” Program would prioritize assisting individuals already heavily involved within a school district and community by providing financial assistance, support and resources toward obtaining a state teaching certification.

The legislation has been introduced by Comitta as S.B. 826 and by Schlossberg as H.B. 141.

A video of the news conference may be viewed here. Photos from the event are available here.