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Pennsylvania Department of Education released roadmap Monday to boost teacher numbers

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Pennsylvania will need thousands of new teachers by 2025, according to the state Department of Education, and getting there at a time the pandemic and educator burnout have exacerbated a nationwide teacher shortage. A difficult battle is being fought.

On Monday the State Department of Education created a roadmap to boost the number of teachers We vow to take immediate action over the next three years to stem the “crisis of the educator workforce.” Ten years ago Pennsylvania certified 20,000 teachers. Last year, he issued only 6,000 credentials.

Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Education Eric Haggerty said this 70% decline, combined with high educator turnover, made teacher supply “one of the most pressing challenges facing our schools. It is.”

“Teaching is a profession that frees up the workforce of all other professions, so we must find ways to encourage more individuals to pick up the phone and enter the classroom,” Haggerty said at a Harrisburg press conference. must.

Over the next three years, we aim to increase the number of students enrolled in Pennsylvania’s teacher education program from 18,000 to 21,600 and reduce the number of educator vacancies in all Pennsylvania schools, officials said. . To do this, they will rely on stronger recruitment strategies for aspiring teachers and change policies to the Educator Preparation Program. Support from state boards of education and general assemblies, expansion of programs such as apprenticeships.

Officials are making permanent changes to make it easier for replacement teachers to qualify, and are working with the Educator Preparation Program to identify coursework requirements that may present barriers to admission for some candidates. , Find resources to help your school district offer competitive salaries and incentives to be more competitive in the job market.

Haggerty said Pennsylvania is particularly interested in attracting teachers of color.

» Read more: Special Report: Teacher Recruitment

“Students know they are most likely to succeed when they have the opportunity to interact with educators who have similar backgrounds and experiences to theirs, yet less than 7% of teachers in Pennsylvania are of color. It’s a race and a far cry from the students population we serve.

The State Department of Education wants to increase the percentage of teachers of color from the current 13% to 25%. She also wants to add effective mentoring and support for teachers of color, and her 90% of teachers of color have increased from her current 80% to want to stay in that profession.

One strategy for achieving these goals is to make it easier for teachers to obtain qualifications. Reduce the time it takes for your applicant’s paperwork to be processed by the state. To do this, officials said they would modernize practices and policies and modernize state teacher information management systems.

Officials said they are also working with Pennsylvania’s teacher training program to expand avenues into the teaching profession. Recommend change, issue guidance on structured literacy, professional ethics, and culturally relevant education, and provide support to education schools.

Enhancing professional development opportunities with more meaningful training is another strategy the state has identified as a way to engage more teachers and keep them in Pennsylvania’s classrooms.

Interviews with Pennsylvania educators illustrated some of the state’s work. They highlighted the barriers to entering and retaining teachers. This includes negative perceptions of education as a career, economic and policy hurdles to enrollment in Pennsylvania education schools, and the lack of effective recruitment strategies for educators of color in some school districts. have clumsy state certification processes, relatively low salaries compared to other industries, and subpar teacher training.

The stakes are incredibly high, said Laura Boyce, executive director of Teach Plus Pennsylvania, an educational nonprofit that works with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop a recruiting strategy. Boyce, a former Philadelphia teacher, had a fifth-grade vacancy during his six months as principal at Camden. With no substitutes or enough building staff to cover her class, Boyce taught herself while managing administrative responsibilities.

“It almost killed me,” she said. “These shortages create a vicious cycle of not being able to sustain the conditions of the educators there.”

One teacher Boyce I worked with developed a bladder infection because he skipped prep periods and bathroom breaks to cover classes.

The burden on students can be even higher.

“Imagine a student without a teacher. Your class is covered by a substitute, split into other classrooms, or experiencing the revolving door of tired teachers covering your class during preparation. “How can you learn without a teacher?”

The teacher shortage, not specific to Pennsylvania, requires “ambitious and transformative change,” Boyce said, while the plan submitted Monday is a starting point, both state and other. He said he would need resources from

“It’s time to invest in the most important profession in our society, teachers, by raising them to the level of recognition and prestige they deserve,” Boyce said.