Education officials in the state are nearing completion on a strategy to alleviate the K-12 teacher shortage.
Acting Education Secretary Eric Hagerty said on Monday that the goal of the plan is to increase the number of teachers in the classroom by 2025 and to retain them there.
According to the information presented in a document that is twenty pages long, there were more than 7,600 new instructors employed in schools during the school year 2014-2015. A little more than 5,000 new teachers were employed at the beginning of the school year in 2020, despite the fact that the number has fluctuated significantly over the preceding seven years.
According to additional Department of Education statistics, the number of instructors who finished their certification requirements fell by two-thirds between 2010 and 2020.
The agency’s plan identifies the simplification of certification standards, the enhancement of training programs, and the provision of more on-the-job assistance for teachers as critical components in the process of recruiting additional educators. Its five “focus areas” include: filling teacher shortages throughout the state’s several regions; ensuring that teachers and other school personnel come from a variety of cultural and ethnic origins; streamlining teacher certification and licensure processes within the U.S. Department of Education; ensuring that newly-certified teachers are well-prepared for the challenges of the classroom; and p roviding opportunities for teachers to grow professionally while remaining in their current positions.
The plan does not include any particular goals for expanding the number of educators working in schools, despite the fact that it mandates precisely that by the year 2025, around 3,600 more persons will be enrolled annually in teacher training programs.
The proposal received feedback from a variety of sources, including organizations such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). Some educators, according to Spokesperson Chris Lilienthal, have voiced their dissatisfaction with having to skip breaks and planning times in order to teach classrooms that do not have a full-time staff member present.
A significant number of the educators whom state leaders have spoken to have said that they do not believe their communities or superiors appreciate them enough. It’s going to take a lot of effort to make teachers feel appreciated again so that they can return to the classroom.