House Education Committee hearing highlights importance of restoring Pennsylvania’s skilled, diverse educator workforce

HARRISBURG, May 3 – The Pennsylvania House Education Committee convened a public hearing Friday afternoon to discuss initiatives to restore Pennsylvania’s teacher pipeline.

State Rep. Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh), Majority Chairman of the House Education Committee hosted the hearing at the West Chester University Alumni & Foundation Center ballroom.

Friday’s hearing featured seven testifiers across three panels, who discuss the impacts of decreasing issuance of Instructional I certificates and the exponential increase in the issuance of emergency permits is having on not only the educator workforce, but also with students in the classroom.

“Numbers don’t lie and the numbers for training educators in Pennsylvania are staggering; it’s not an exaggeration to say there is a critical shortage of teachers,” said Schweyer. “Where we used to train roughly 15,000 educators a year, for the past few years, Pennsylvania has been training less than 5,000 educators. We need to ensure we not only support those talented and dedicated people who want to teach in our schools, but also ensure our children are receiving the quality education they are entitled to receive through our state constitution.”

Testifiers with PSEA detailed initiatives such as the Educators Rising Program which introduces students who are interested in a teaching career to the professional skillsets and define what they will need in order to be effective educators in the classroom. Additionally, testifiers also discussed the importance of the legislature to fully fund the student teacher stipend program which exceeded applications within days of its implementation last month.

“Many student teachers struggle to cover basic living expenses during that period, which impedes their ability to focus on teaching responsibilities,” said Dr. Desha Williams, Dean of Education and Social Work at West Chester University. “To adequately address this, the General Assembly needs to increase state funding for this program and add measures so the students with the most need are prioritized.

Friday’s hearing can be viewed in its entirety here, while testimony can be found here.