HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — There is no shortage of children needing to be educated in Pennsylvania, but there is a lack of people to teach them. A day-long summit outside Harrisburg attempted to answer questions like, how big is the problem, and what’s the fix?
In 2010, there were 15,000 new teachers a year getting certified. Last year, that number dropped to 5,000, compounding higher resignation numbers after the pandemic.
“Political attacks on teachers and accusing them of things like grooming students, or indoctrinating students that adds insult to injury when they’re already underpaid and underappreciated,” said Laura Boyce, executive director of Teach Plus.
A large group of stakeholders got together Thursday to look at the teacher shortage across the commonwealth and the nation. Teachers, superintendents, nonprofits, members of the state education department, and lawmakers got together to talk about how big the problem is.
“They haven’t been in the classroom for a long time so we don’t really know what to expect when we go to teach because we’re learning off the ideal classroom with 20 kids,” added Boyce.
On Thursday, the summit attendees tried to get their arms around what caused the shift and come up with ideas about how to fix it.
“Every kid in Pennsylvania deserves a great teacher, and right now, we’re at a moment of crisis where our educator workforce is stretched like it’s never been. We have more vacancies and lower recruitment and retention than we ever have, and it’s an urgent situation, one of the biggest threats facing the commonwealth,” said Boyce.
“Education is a matter of national security. we need to have an educated population in order for this country to continue to thrive as a super power you have to educate your population,” said Tamara Harris, superintendent, Susquehanna Township School District.
Some solutions posed have included a mentorship program run by the state to encourage more people to become teachers, picking up some of the college tuition for students who choose to go into education jobs, and more money for teachers.