A Call to Action: Pennsylvania Rallies Against Teacher Shortage Crisis

Hughes Teacher ShortageSubmitted Image

PHILADELPHIA, PA — In response to the escalating teacher shortage crisis in Pennsylvania, Senator Hughes convened a significant coalition of lawmakers, education leaders, and teacher advocates on Saturday. The press conference followed recent reports of record teacher shortages across the Commonwealth, with the number of teacher certificates issued in the state declining by an alarming 71% between 2022 and 2011.

“We need more teachers,” Senator Hughes stressed, calling the situation a call to action. He emphasized that collective efforts were underway to address the crisis, including a $10 million allocation for student-teacher stipends and the creation of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and dual enrollment programs. However, he argued that these measures were insufficient, and further action was needed.

Hughes pointed to the General Assembly’s responsibility to address the recent Commonwealth Court decision that ruled Pennsylvania’s education funding system unconstitutional. Governor Shapiro’s recent budget proposal, which includes over $1 billion for basic education funding, aligns with recommendations from the Basic Education Funding Commission to remedy this.

“We are fighting for historic investments in education funding, but to make those investments work we need more teachers,” Hughes stated, underlining the interdependence of adequate funding and sufficient staffing in the education sector.

The press conference saw participation from education leaders and advocates across the state, who highlighted the urgent need to support new and existing teachers. Proposed solutions included expanding the student-teacher stipend program, introducing grants and hiring bonuses to attract teachers, increasing teachers’ pay, and launching a Parent University to foster collaboration between teachers and parents for the benefit of students.

“Failure on this issue is not an option,” Hughes declared emphatically. Despite the severity of the crisis, he and his coalition expressed cautious optimism. The state has already invested $10 million in student-teacher stipends, and Governor Shapiro has proposed an additional $15 million for the fiscal year 2025-26 budget.

Furthermore, the CTE Teacher Program at the Science Leadership Academy at Beeber exemplifies the potential success of exposing high school students to teaching opportunities and mentorships. Such initiatives could inspire a new generation of teachers and help alleviate the staffing crisis.

“By working together and across the aisle with our Republican colleagues, we can deliver more for our teachers,” Hughes affirmed, underscoring the bipartisan nature of the teacher shortage issue.

The coalition included Senator Jimmy Dillon; Representative Danielle Friel Otten; Dr. Tony Watlington, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia; Reginald Streater, President, Philadelphia School Board; Jerry Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Aaron Chapin, President, PSEA; Sharon Ward, Deputy Chief Education Officer, Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia; Monika Shealey, Dean of Temple College of Education and Human Development; Dr. Sarah Ulrich, Associate Dean, Drexel School University School of Education; Sharif El-Mekki, CEO, The Center for Black Educator Development; Laura Boyce, PA Executive Director, Teach Plus; and student-teacher and SLA Beeber CTE faculty and students.

This broad-based coalition highlights the widespread recognition of the crisis and the commitment to find solutions. As Pennsylvania grapples with its teacher shortage, these collective efforts represent a beacon of hope for a better future for the state’s education system and its students.

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