HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania educators are sounding the alarm on a crisis poised to negatively impact millions across the state.
“If schools are engines of educational and economic opportunity, then educators are the conductors who keep the train moving forward and at this pivotal moment in our history, the train is dangerously close to going off the tracks," said Laura Boyce of Teach Plus.
A 20-page strategic plan to recruit and retain thousands of teachers and other education workers by August 2025 was announced Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
The plan works to meet the staffing needs of rural, suburban, and urban districts.
In it, the Department of Education also stressed the importance of increasing workforce diversity.
“Not only do we need to attract and retain great educators, we need to attract and retain great educators from a multitude of different backgrounds," said Eric Hagarty, acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Currently, less than 7% of Pennsylvania teachers are people of color.
"Our children in Pennsylvania deserve educators who look like them, who hail from their communities, who share their experiences and recognize the rich assets students bring to their schools each and every day," said Dr. Andrea Terrero Gabbadon of the Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium.
The Department also promises to streamline the teacher certification process, removing barriers like the basic skills test for at least the next three years.
“That requirement was a significant hurdle to many of our students in teacher education and even if it wasn’t a hurdle it cost them hundreds of dollars that were unnecessary," said John Ward of PAC-TE.
The state’s plan also includes initiatives that will help better prepare aspiring educators and ensure better access to professional growth and leadership opportunities
“We have a lot of work to do to make teachers feel that respect and get back to the days of ‘Bring an apple to your teacher and thank them for everything they do,'" said Acting Secretary Hagarty.