Schools In Pennsylvania Are Feeling The Effects Of The Nationwide Teacher Shortage

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Pennsylvania school districts are struggling to fill teaching positions as kids get ready to return to class.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the state will require thousands of new teachers by the year 2025, yet fewer students are majoring in education in college and more teachers are retiring.

Statistics from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education show that the number of new teachers getting their licenses has dropped by almost two-thirds in the last ten years.

Ten years ago, over 20,000 new teachers joined the labor sector annually; last year, that number dropped to around 6,000. As a result, educational institutions have been hard pressed to find sufficient personnel to fill vacancies.

Some local superintendents have reported having difficulty filling teaching positions in school systems in Washington, Greene, and Fayette counties. No one applied to be a high school chemistry teacher after the district put up ads for many weeks. Two elementary-level special education positions, a life skills teacher and an autistic support teacher, were unfilled for a long time due to a lack of applicants.

Superintendents are aware of the fact that there are fewer qualified people to interview for teaching jobs.

The state department of education released a plan last month to increase the number of qualified teachers in the state over the next three years.

The plan aims to make teachers more diverse (less than 7% of Pennsylvania’s teachers are people of color, and it’s hard for teacher preparation programs to find more diverse candidates), to make certification easier, to improve training for people who want to become teachers, and to give teachers more opportunities for professional growth and leadership.

There are a number of factors contributing to the scarcity of qualified educators, including low wages, increased workloads, negative student conduct, increased partisanship, and concerns about student and staff safety. Superintendents claim that the situation has worsened due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition to a severe lack of available instructors, schools are suffering from a severe lack of available substitute teachers.

To help with the shortage, Pennsylvania recently gave emergency teaching permits to people with a bachelor’s degree but no teaching license who want to work as day-to-day substitute teachers.

Those interested in getting emergency permission to substitute teach in a particular district should get in touch with that district to learn more about its unique substitute teacher standards, methods, procedures, and remuneration.

A Judge Will Rule On Whether Or Not Pennsylvania Is Adequately Funding Education

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When Tuesday’s argument in the protracted lawsuit came to a close, the state judge who was presiding over it was given the responsibility of making a judgment about whether or not the manner in which Pennsylvania uses to pay for public education satisfies the requirement in the state constitution that legislators establish “a thorough and efficient system.”

The judge assigned to the case in the Commonwealth Court, Renee Cohn Jubelirer, did not provide any indication as to when she would make her decision, but she did say that the attorneys had left her with a vast record to study.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are questioning whether the amounts and manner of distribution of the yearly education subsidies provided by the General Assembly are in accordance with the Pennsylvania Constitution. If the plaintiffs are successful in their challenge, the case might result in significant changes.

The defendants in this case are Republican leaders in the state House and Senate. They contend that there has been sufficient funding growth and that it is sufficient.

The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, has been in office for over eight years, and during that time, state spending for education has grown by billions of dollars. This increase was included in the state budget that was enacted earlier this month.

Attorney Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, of the Public Interest Law Center, spoke on behalf of the plaintiffs and characterized the present system as being riddled with serious and systemic problems. They have the right to take legal action, he stated, if they believe their educational rights are being abused in any way.

In other states where courts have determined that school financing does not meet constitutional criteria, the usual effect has been years of more litigation and conflict between arms of government with “little or no practical results,” according to Patrick Northen, a lawyer representing House Speaker Bryan Cutler, a Republican from Lancaster. Mr. Cutler is the current speaker of the House of Representatives.

Six school districts, a number of individual parents, the Pennsylvania state conference of the NAACP, and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools are the plaintiffs in this case. Regardless of how she decides, it is believed that the judgment made by Cohn-Jubelirer would be challenged.

Pennsylvania: State Education Leaders Announce A Three-Year Plan To Address The Teacher Shortage

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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.

Pennsylvania: New Legislation Aims To Address The State’s Teacher Shortage

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education presented a three-year strategic plan to eliminate obstacles to obtaining the certification required to enter the field in an attempt to increase the number of teachers in Pennsylvania schools amid a nationwide teacher shortage.

Thousands more teachers will be needed in Pennsylvania by 2025 according to “The Foundation of Our Economy,” which was issued Monday. Pennsylvania is working to fill the void left by a shrinking teaching force nationwide by diversifying its workforce in order to better represent the state’s rapidly changing demographics.

In order to strengthen the workforce and retain instructors, the agency has selected five primary areas of attention. In order to achieve these goals, we must fulfill the staffing requirements of schools around the state, diversify our workforce to better reflect the demographics of the kids we serve, simplify the certification process, provide high-quality training for aspiring teachers, and provide exceptional opportunities for professional growth and development.

The state expects to see a jump from 18,000 to 21,600 students enrolled in pre-K-12 preparatory programs by August 2025. According to lengthy feedback sessions with educators and other state officials, a primary approach to do so is to alter the Public School Code and abolish the fundamental skills evaluation necessary for admittance into an educator preparation program. For the following three years, the requirement has been waived. Improved paths to certification for teachers moving to Pennsylvania from other states have also been authorized by the legislature.

In addition to this, it creates a Committee on Education Talent Recruitment, the purpose of which is to devise programs for high school students who are considering a future in the teaching profession. A stipend scheme for college students was also authorized by lawmakers as a means of boosting the number of people working in the education industry.

Teaching staff diversification is a top priority for the state as part of its effort to better represent the student population. There are plans to increase that ratio from 13 percent to 25 percent by August 2025, according to the state’s plan.

The major method through which schools and districts will work toward achieving this goal is by forming partnerships with nonprofit organizations and providing financial assistance to encourage increased participation in educational programs among students of color who are enrolled in high school and college.

The state wants to enhance its certification system by making the process faster and simpler for applicants, simplifying it so that potential teachers can make job and career choices more swiftly.

Pennsylvania: Out-Of-State Teachers Will Be Able To Teach In Schools, Bill Signed To Address Teacher Shortage

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Reforms and simplified certification procedures for teachers are being pushed through by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly because of a scarcity of teachers.

To make it easier for out-of-state instructors to teach in Pennsylvania, a new measure, SB224, is being crafted. In Pennsylvania, a teacher who has finished a state-approved teaching program in another state would be eligible for a certification that is equivalent. A reciprocal agreement with other states would make it simpler for instructors who relocate to Pennsylvania to begin teaching.  “Schools continue to face teacher shortages that affect students and their learning, but there are plenty of new state residents who are experienced and would like to help fill the gaps,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, the bill’s sponsor. “We need to put trained and effective teachers in our classrooms as soon as we can, and my bill would help to make that happen by removing the considerable barrier that currently exists.”

In recent years, the number of instructors who have been certified has decreased significantly. There has been a 66% decrease in instructional teaching certifications given by the Pennsylvania State Department of Education since 2010.  Legislation was approved by both chambers of Congress in October, with backing from the House Education Committee.  The Pennsylvania State Education Association also supports it.  “We believe it is a common-sense solution that will help attract qualified out-of-state teachers to Pennsylvania classrooms and address the state’s growing teacher shortage,” said Chris Lilienthal, assistant director of communications for PSEA. “We appreciate the work of Sen. Bartolotta in introducing it and the broad support it has received in the Legislature so far.”

A lot of states have reciprocity regulations when it comes to getting your teaching credential renewed. As reported by the Education Commission of the Jurisdictions, only eight states provide complete reciprocity to all teachers, regardless of their level of experience, whereas 37 states and the District of Columbia waive some of these restrictions for more seasoned professionals.  As the demand for teachers grows, “this legislation will provide a path to new commonwealth residents who have that experience to fill that need,” said Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Clearfield, who introduced the bill.

An After-School Satan Club Was Rejected By The Pennsylvania Board

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On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania school board turned down a request from an individual to establish an after-school Satan Club at Northern Elementary School.

Except for one board member, no one was in favor of the club’s establishment. Participants in the Satanic Temple’s two-hour meeting debated the age range of potential club members, as well as cultural and biblical implications of such a club’s founding and the program’s website material.

“Look at the range of our students the children suffering from mental health issues, suicide, anxiety, depression all these things are off the chart and my heart goes out to these kids,” one resident at the meeting said. “More than ever we need a God in this world and this proposal in the opposite direction.”

The inclusion of the club was welcomed by some parents. As the world is always changing, another parent argued that the school district would be harming the children by not authorizing the club, which would allow them to learn more about what the club is and why it exists in the early stages of their lives.

There is no need to enjoy or support anything just because you’ve accepted its existence.

Parents who were supportive of their children’s decision to create a club noted that it was a constitutional right.

Samantha Groome, a district mother, came up with the idea for the club as an alternative to the Joy El Christian club, which offered kids off-campus, faith-based activities during school hours.

Faith-based activities including Bible memory exercises, scripturally-based character education, and learning skills are taught to students in third through eighth grades. During the school day, pupils are taken out of class and transported to the program location by bus.

Non-religious Groome said she did not want her children to lose out on extracurricular activities like Joy El, but there were no other options for her to choose.

As a result of a Supreme Court judgment in the 2001 case “Good News Club v. Milford Central School,” all religious clubs in districts are entitled to have a “limited public forum,” regardless of religion practices. Groome discovered the After School Satan Club program.

In the United States, there are four After School Satan Clubs in operation, according to June Everett, the club’s director.

It’s a way to point out what Lucien Greaves feels are flaws in our country’s separation of religion and state, according to the Satanic Temple co-founder.

“What you can’t do is you can’t pick and choose between viewpoints, you can’t say that you’re going to only accept certain religious voices but not others,” Greaves said. “That is religious discrimination.”

Greaves predicted that the Satanic Temple will take legal action if its request to join the club is refused.

“That’s not something we like to do,” Greaves said. “Unfortunately, we have to put up the funds for our own litigation to move forward to make sure that people understand the Constitution, understand what religious liberty actually means, where their authority ends and what’s covered under the First Amendment.”

The Book “Persepolis” By Marjane Satrapi Has Been Removed From The Pennsylvania School Curriculum

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Persepolis is Satrapi’s graphic memoir about growing up in Iran and Austria during the Islamic Revolution. The book has won various honors since its release in two parts in 2000 and 2004, including multiple prizes at the Angoulême Festival in 2000, 2004, and 2005. Since its publication, it has been the subject of multiple challenges and bans, ranking #2 on the American Library Association’s list of Most Challenged Books for 2014 and #40 on the ALA’s list of Most Challenged Books from 2010 to 2019. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has used the book as a case study in censorship.

During a regular review last year, the Franklin Regional School District’s curriculum committee approved the teaching of Persepolis; a public review of the approved curriculum earlier this year prompted the complaints from parents, and a school board meeting last week included public debate about the book’s teaching. Several parents’ arguments for the book challenge are the following:

Carla Williamson of Murrysville said she had read “Persepolis” and supported its removal from the curriculum.

“I was dismayed by the scenes of violence and torture,” Williamson said, before quoting a passage that included the F-word.

“Please excuse my foul language,” she said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate here, and I don’t think it’s appropriate in the classroom.”

Williamson said she believes the book “pushes a liberal ideology that does not belong in our school.”

[…]

Gretchen McGee of Murrysville said the covid-19 pandemic has brought parents into much closer contact with their children’s school curriculum, and that “there are underlying themes to a lot of what our children are being taught.”

McGee used examples from one of children’s school workbooks that explores a Black student who encounters racism from a white teacher, as well as a passage about a Chinese boy who is asked to disavow his father’s belief in communism.

There is a lot that doesn’t align with what we are teaching our children at home,” McGee said.

The controversy over Persepolis in the Franklin Region will continue, as the curriculum committee of the school district must now submit a recommendation to the school board on whether or not to teach the novel. There’s no information on when that may happen.


The following article is paraphrased from the following: Pennsylvania school district pulls Marjane Satrapi’s PERSEPOLIS from curriculum, Joe Grunenwald, 03/23/2022 4:00 pm, https://www.comicsbeat.com/persepolis-marjane-satrapi-pulled-from-curriculum/?amp

The Impact Of A Group Of “Brilliant Graduates” On Modern Chinese Architecture

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“Building in China” is on display in two parts: A historical section (pictured) in the Architectural Archives and a contemporary display in the Fisher Fine Arts Library reading room. (Image: Zhongjie Lin)

Zhu Bin was the first Chinese student to be accepted into the architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1918. 22 more Chinese students would come to Penn to study architecture over the next two decades, becoming the “first generation” of architects who would go on to create China’s first modern architectural businesses and educational institutions.

The “Building in China: A Century of Dialogues on Modern Architecture” exhibition explores the work of this first generation and how they impacted modern architecture in China to commemorate the interchange between Penn and China. The two-part show is on view until April 22 in the Fisher Fine Arts Library’s reading room, and until May 16 in the Architectural Archives.

After receiving a grant from Penn Global’s China Research and Engagement Fund, Zhongjie Lin, associate professor of City and Regional Planning and one of the exhibit’s curators, began planning the show more than two years ago. Lin wanted to host an exhibition on Penn’s campus that showcased the University’s history of engaging with and educating Chinese students. His previous work included a variety of research on modern architecture and urbanism in East Asia, and he was involved in several events on China through the Penn Wharton China Center.

Lin says that one of the goals of “Building in China” is to frame the connection between Penn and China as a 100-year dialogue. “Among the different generations of Chinese architects, we want to see what the present-day architects inherit from the previous generations: Where is the continuity and where has been transformed,” says Lin.

The initiative began with this first generation of Chinese students at Penn, which, according to Lin, was the university that taught the most Chinese architectural students in the early twentieth century. “These are really brilliant graduates—they founded the first architectural institutions and programs in China, they were devoted to the preservation of cultural heritage, and they established some of the first independent design firms in China,” he says.

Prior to the twentieth century, building-related choices in China were determined centrally by local or national governing organizations, according to Nancy Steinhardt, an East Asian art professor, who adds that the concept of architectural design “didn’t exist” at the time. Following the Boxer Rebellion, the United States established the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship, which mandated that a percentage of wartime reparations go toward education in order to modernize the country. The scholarship program opened up U.S. colleges to Chinese students in a variety of areas, including architecture, in addition to building an English language preparatory school and a college in Beijing named Tsinghua.

“The students who came to Penn and went back to China literally built a new China,” adds Steinhardt. “If you track the careers of anyone who were trained in architecture, these students had an incredible opportunity. Nobody in any nation but China had that kind of serious, studied effort to modernize.”

While 23 Chinese students attended Penn in the early twentieth century, Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin’s work and legacies are among the most notable to this day. Their memoirs also offer insight into the complicated, ever-changing world that Chinese architects returning home encountered in the mid-twentieth century.

Both Liang and Lin Huiyin came to Penn to study architecture in 1924, and their professor was French-born architect Paul Philippe Cret. Liang got a master’s degree in architecture, while Lin Huiyin received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts after being denied admission to the architecture school since it did not yet allow women.

In 1928, the couple married and relocated to Shenyang’s Northeast University. They co-founded the country’s second School of Architecture there, with a Western-style curriculum fashioned after Penn’s. Shenyang fell to Japanese soldiers during the Manchurian invasion shortly after, and the couple retreated to Beijing.

Despite the various difficulties they had while working during the war, they got deeply interested in and passionate about cultural restoration initiatives, undertaking study on traditional architectural approaches. Liang was then asked to help create Tsinghua University’s architectural and urban planning departments following the war. Lin Huiyin was a professor of architecture at the time and later became a well-known writer and architectural historian.

With the emergence of the Communist Party in the 1950s, Liang and Lin Huiyin were tapped to create a new People’s Republic of China logo, which is still in use today. The Monument to the People’s Heroes was similarly designed by Liang; Lin Huiyin died three years before it was completed.

Despite his early effect on the Chinese Communist Party’s national style, Liang was called a “counterrevolutionary” during the Cultural Revolution. During this period, his second wife, Lin Zhu, buried the traditional architectural study that Liang and Lin Huiyin had done throughout the 1930s, work that would later become “A Pictoral History of Chinese Architecture.” Many sites were destroyed or changed during the Cultural Revolution, therefore this posthumous book offers pictures of heritage locations, knowledge that would have been lost if it hadn’t been for this endeavor.

While Liang had previously been shunned because of his Western education, Steinhardt claims that when China reopened to the outside world in the 1980s, he was remade as a “culture hero,” allowing a new generation of students to reconnect with the international architecture community.

Historic images, sketches, and watercolor studies done by the first generation of Chinese architecture students when they were studying at Penn may be found in the exhibition’s historical part, which is housed in the Architectural Archives.

According to Steinhardt, architecture students at Penn studying under Cret would have acquired Beaux-Arts methods, a style close to French neoclassicism that was “compatible with key components of Chinese architecture” during this time period. Because Beaux-Arts is rooted in a classical heritage, it appealed to Chinese students, who value architecture that builds on the past, according to Steinhardt.

These design principles were reinforced when China and the USSR grew increasingly integrated throughout the mid-twentieth century, because Russian architects would have had the same Parisian training. These aesthetic parallels may be seen in images and models of the first generation’s hotels, banks, theaters, offices, administrative buildings, and libraries.

When the curators were looking at these structures, Lin says they realized that the architects were already incorporating modernity into their work in a way that showed “a lot of forward thinking.” “We frequently refer to them as traditionalists, and some of their structures indicate this,” Lin explains. “However, when we examined some of their designs, we noticed that they had increasingly identified with modernism, that they were well informed of worldwide style and avant-garde movements, and that they incorporated these design approaches into their ideas.”

The show changes to modern architecture upstairs in the Fisher Fine Arts Library’s reading room, featuring drawings, models, and video interviews with two Chinese architects: Yung Ho Chang, co-founder of Atelier FCJZ, and Shu Wang, co-founder of Amateur Architecture Studio. The designs for these modern museums, studio residences, and village makeovers reveal current Chinese architecture in the context of continuous economic change, growing urbanization, and a desire to achieve a balance between the modern and the old.

The experiences described in “Building in China” constitute a “particularly uplifting time in Chinese history,” according to Steinhardt, with lasting effects. “Chinese architecture, like China itself, was bound to modernize,” argues Steinhardt. “And the fact that it occurred in the 1920s, when Beaux-Arts was the dominant architectural system, is undoubtedly significant.”

Lin believes that this exhibition will give visitors with a more comprehensive view of architecture in China and will encourage the continuation of this now century-long discourse, in addition to sharing both the history and present landscape of architecture in China with the Penn community.

“While spatial production in China is still dominated by large, state-owned design institutions, more independent architects have joined Chang and Wang to pursue their own creative approaches and experiment with pluralist design ideas, aesthetic, and sometimes social notions,” says Lin. “Their work seeks to present a more nuanced relationship between Chinese identity and contemporary technology, and to bridge traditional narratives and contemporary lifestyles.”


The following article is paraphrased from the following: How a class of ‘brilliant graduates’ shaped modern Chinese architecture, Erica K. Brockmeier, March 9, 2022, https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/how-class-brilliant-graduates-shaped-modern-chinese-architecture

Featured Image Credits: ““Building in China” is on display in two parts: A historical section (pictured) in the Architectural Archives and a contemporary display in the Fisher Fine Arts Library reading room. (Image: Zhongjie Lin)