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Fighting Against Declining Educator Numbers

The number of new Teachers entering the workforce in Pennsylvania is less than one third of what it was just a decade ago. Now, the State is working to try and curb an Educator shortage as it heads toward a critical state.

Laura Boyce, Executive Director of Teach Plus Pennsylvania saying: “I like to say that teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible. Our entire society quite literally falls apart if we don’t have great Teachers.” And that is why Education Leaders say an Educator shortage is the biggest threat not only facing the education system, but to the future prosperity of the Commonwealth. Eric Hagarty, Acting Secretary of Education saying: “Over the last decade, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in people entering the field of Education. To make matters worse, the rate of Teachers leaving the field is also accelerating.” This situation exacerbated by increased scrutiny over what’s taught, and fallout from the Pandemic. Hagarty adding: “Of course we all know the last few years has been among the most challenging times to be an Educator, but the Pandemic alone isn’t the only reason why more Teachers are feeling burned out.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education releasing a report Monday outlining its plan to attract more Educators to the profession. Hagarty saying: “We’re not just talking about Teachers, but School Bus Drivers, Librarians… We’re probably in the tens of thousands of Teachers that we don’t have now that we do need.” It focuses on recruiting and retaining, better diversity, streamlining certification, improving training for aspiring Teachers, and expanding professional growth and leadership development once they’re in. Hagarty adding: “Implications of not addressing the Teacher shortage is what we will see is larger class sizes, and fewer class offerings.”

Hagarty says some of the problems will get financial help through a nearly $2 Billion increase in Education Funding in this year’s budget. But solving issues like morale and reputation will take time. Hagarty adding: “Decades ago, Teachers I think were among the most revered members of their community and I think we’ve seen that erode a bit in the last several years.” But not solving them now he fears could lead to severe and long-lasting implications for generations to come. Hagarty, in closing: “I would and hope and plead with everyone if you know a Teacher, thank them because they really do tremendous work and have on of the most difficult jobs imaginable.”

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