(WHTM) — The teacher shortage in Pennsylvania continues to get worse even as the commonwealth works to bring in new educators. A Midstate school district superintendent did not hold back when it came to addressing the Commonwealth’s critical teacher shortage.
New data confirmed what so many school districts across the commonwealth already know.
“There’s not enough newly certified teachers coming out of Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Ed Fuller, a Penn State professor and author of the “Pennsylvania Teacher Staffing Challenges” analysis.
The numbers are staggering, with a 66 percent drop in newly certified teachers since 2010.
“I’m concerned. And I guarantee you all 500 superintendents across the state of Pennsylvania are concerned,” said Vance Varner, Mifflin County School District superintendent.
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Pennsylvania now has more teachers on emergency permits than newly certified teachers, according to the state’s department of education.
“This matters because those people tend not to be as effective in increasing student achievement,” Fuller added.
Fuller’s 23-page report, “Pennsylvania Teacher Staffing Challenges,” aims to shed light on the severe shortage the state is facing.
Fuller says the research is clear – students are hurting because of this, particularly kids in schools serving serving kids in poverty or lots of kids of color.
“We absolutely are struggling,” Varner said.
The Mifflin County School District is one of several districts across the state facing staffing shortages. Half of the teachers hired in the district last summer had to get emergency certifications.
Varner says many teachers are retiring early adding to the shortage.
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“We’re seeing a lot of good people walk out the door and education right now,” said Varner.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association admits that the Commonwealth is dealing with a crisis.
“We need to look at how can we make those positions competitive,” said Christopher Lilienthal of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
But the organization says there are ways to fix it, proposing a starting salary of $60,000 dollars for teachers.
“If you’re coming out of college with a degree, and you can go and make significantly more money in another industry, with similar education levels, we’re going to continue to lose those teachers to other industries.