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Pa. educators and students rally in Harrisburg as teacher shortage reaches record numbers

Nearly 10,000 teachers left their jobs during the 2022-23 school year, the highest number on record, according to a Penn State report.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania educators and students pleaded for help and demanded solutions at a rally held at the state capitol on Tuesday addressing the ongoing teacher shortage crisis.

"We are in the midst of the worst teacher shortage crisis the Commonwealth has ever seen," said Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director Laura Boyce. "All signs point toward it only getting worse."

The rally organized by the #PANeedsTeachers Campaign highlighted challenges and issues facing today's teachers, causing a growing attrition rate.

"We are seeing teachers leave not necessarily because they want to, but because their talents, services and contributions aren't being valued enough to stick around," said Tim Crane, a Camp Hill High School English teacher. "They literally can't afford to stay a teacher."

A total of 9,587 teachers left their jobs within the 2022/23 school year, the biggest number on record according to a May study by the Penn State Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis

The nearly 10,000 departures resulted in a 1.5% attrition rate increase from the school year before, the largest spike within the last decade.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in-state teacher certifications have dropped nearly 72% from the 2012-2013 school year to 2021-2022.

Educators say it's a problem that needs to be addressed now. 

"Every minute that we waste is a child's future that we are putting on the back burner," said Boyce.

Concerns among teachers are growing about the negative impact this will have on Pennsylvania's youth.

"The students aren't getting the kinds of educational opportunities that we know we should afford them because we literally don't have the high-quality teachers in the classroom doing the work with them every single day," said Crane.

These concerns are resonating among Pennsylvania's students. 

"How can students envision success without having those to guide them to it," said Lynsay Bennet, a Philadelphia high school student.

In a push for solutions, lawmakers highlighted new legislation recently introduced in the Pa. House and Senate that could provide additional resources like teacher stipends, improved data collection and programs that would help communities build a pipeline of teachers.

The new bills all aim to address the ongoing issue, something educators believe will allow the state's education system to reach its potential.

"We want Pennsylvania to be a leader nationally and internationally in attracting our best and brightest to become teachers," said Boyce.

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