Senate Democrats Discuss School Staffing Shortages at Virtual Policy Hearing

Policy Feb-1-2022Image via Pennsylvania Senate Democrats

HARRISBURG, February 1, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee,  joined Senator Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) on Wednesday to host a virtual public hearing on the staffing shortage crisis facing Pennsylvania’s public education system.

“We have an education workforce crisis in Pennsylvania impacting teachers, school nurses, support staff, guidance counselors and bus drivers. This is unfortunately not a new issue, but these challenges have become far more pronounced throughout the pandemic,” Muth said. “The testimony from all of the panelists… allowed for all of us to hear firsthand from those living this struggle and bearing the burden of this crisis. The lack of equitable and sustainable funding for our public school system, staff turnover and low retention rates, and low wages are all barriers that can be overcome.  We need long-term solutions like student loan forgiveness for educators, guaranteed benefits and living wages, and retirement security. School staff across our Commonwealth take care of students in so many ways and we have to support them in every way possible.”

The virtual policy hearing featured two panels of participants who presented testimony and discussed the impact of this school staffing crisis across school and administrative departments. The hearing also included discussion on potential solutions to address both the immediate crisis and strategies to support Pennsylvania’s public education workforce, schools, and students.

“Hearing from teachers and school personnel directly affected by staffing shortages is so important to us as legislators. Staffing shortages have an enormous price tag and they take a tremendous toll on students, staff, and parents. That’s why we need to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to invest federal funds and a surplus of state funds directly into the next generation – these are our future school nurses, teachers, counselors, and bus drivers,” Williams added. “We must seize this moment. The last three years have shown us that our schools are in many ways the keystone of our society – and for a better society, we must invest in our public education system and begin to address the school staffing challenges…”

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Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Senate Democrats unveiled a $3.75 billion Full Funding Plan that would address funding inequity, crumbling school infrastructure needs and importantly include $250 million to address the staffing issues discussed at this week’s policy hearing.

Testifiers at the hearing included Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Rich Askey, President, Pennsylvania State Education Association; Larisa Shambaugh, Chief Talent Officer, School District of Philadelphia; Adam McCormick, Teacher, Scranton High School; Tammy Sabo and Mary Ellen Noel, Teamsters Local 249; and Chris Naylor, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776.

All submitted testimony from this week’s hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy.

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