HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Department of Education has released a strategic plan to recruit and retain educators in Pennsylvania.

The 50-step strategy (titled The Foundation of Our Economy: Pennsylvania Educator Workforce Strategy, 2022-2025) was developed after conducting feedback sessions across Pennsylvania.

The Department of Education says the plan sets forth “ambitious goals” related to the following five educator workforce focus areas:

  • Meeting the educator staffing needs of rural, suburban, and urban areas;
  • Building a diverse workforce representative of the students we serve;
  • Operating a rigorous, streamlined, and customer service-oriented certification process;
  • Ensuring high-quality preparation experiences for aspiring educators; and
  • Ensuring educator access to high-quality and relevant professional growth and leadership development opportunities.

The Wolf administration hopes to have the strategies implemented by 2025, but it will ultimately be up to the next Governor, who will be elected in November.

According to the Department of Education, 10 years ago roughly 20,000 new teachers entered the workforce each year, while last year only 6,000 did so.

“We’re probably in the tens of thousands of teachers we don’t have now that we do need,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty.

Acting Secretary Hagarty was joined by Laura Boyce, Pennsylvania executive director of Teach Plus; John Ward, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE); and the Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium (PEDC) to announce the plan.

“Pennsylvania’s educator shortage is the biggest threat facing not only our educational system but our future prosperity as a commonwealth,” said Pennsylvania executive director of Teach Plus Laura Boyce. “If schools are engines of educational and economic opportunity, then educators are the conductors who keep the train moving forward. Teach Plus teachers have been sounding the alarm about this crisis and are eager to partner with the Department to enact ambitious and transformational changes to better recruit and retain educators in Pennsylvania.”

“Educators are the cornerstone of our communities and serve as the gateway to our collective future; without them, our workforce and economy cannot survive,” said Hagarty. “Like other states across the nation, we have been grappling with an educator workforce shortage that would have severe and long-lasting implications for generations to come. However, Pennsylvania is acting now to reverse course, and this plan will help guide us as we recruit and retain teachers, school leaders, early childhood professionals, school librarians, and other vital personnel at all levels, from pre-K to high school, in all corners of the commonwealth.”

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“The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) welcomes the Pennsylvania Educator Workforce Strategy and the recent changes in the Public School Code as important steps toward growing the number of well-prepared teachers who will choose teaching as a life-long profession. We look forward to working together to enact this vision,” said PAC-TE President John Ward.

“The Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium welcomes this new report from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and, through it, the Wolf Administration’s recognition that Pennsylvania educators and the learners they serve represent the future viability and prosperity of the commonwealth,” said PEDC Co-Director, Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium Juliet Curci. “We believe that the future of Pennsylvania depends on our strategic collaborative efforts to recruit and retain educators who will support each learner to thrive. To this end, we must increase the number of ethnically, racially, and linguistically diverse educators as well as culturally relevant and sustaining educators. The strategies included within this report provide much needed and timely guidance for how we can collectively grow and strengthen our educator workforce for the benefit of our educators, our students, and our communities.”

The recently-enacted Pennsylvania state budget increased education funding by $1.8 billion.