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Summit to be held in Pennsylvania to address teacher shortages in the state

Teach Plus, in partnership with the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), will host a "Pa. Needs Teachers Summit" Thursday.

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Policymakers, teachers, data analysts, and more will be at the Pennsylvania Teaching and Technical Assistance Network Thursday to discuss solutions on how to combat the nationwide teacher shortage. 

TeachPlus, in partnership with the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), will host a "Pa. Needs Teachers Summit" to discuss how to make the teaching industry more appealing, how to retain teachers, and how to act on the teacher shortage.

Laura Boyce, Pennsylvania executive director of TeachPlus, said that many teachers feel the urgency of the nationwide teacher shortage and would like to act now, but solutions should have a long-term impact. 

“...any improvement in our educational system that starts with having great teachers in the classroom, and having great teachers staying in the classroom, and continuing to develop so we share that urgency, that is the reason behind the summit and the reason we want to start looking towards those solutions that could be implemented quickly, but that are going to root causes and continue to strengthen our educator workforce,” she told FOX43. 

The summit will have advocates, K-12 practitioners, and education prep members in attendance. The forum includes open conversations where participants can examine the systemic root problems in the industry and provide solutions. 

Amy Morton, assistant design specialist with the National Center of Education and Economy, said that one of the systemic, root problems in the industry include the field not being appealing enough. An increase in salary, early career support and mentoring, and more respect for teachers who take up the profession is what Morton says will attract younger people graduating from high school and college. 

“They are less interested in a profession where progression of that profession is in years of service and accumulated credits, which is the foundation for many salary schedules for teachers," she said. "They’re more interested in an environment where their level of competence is the basis for promotion." 

Some of the guests included in the summit will be Eric Hagerty, acting Secretary of Education for the state of Pennsylvania, State Senator Ryan Aument, and two representatives from the House Education Committee: Jason Oritaty and Patty Kim.

Organizers hope to have a solution by the end of the summit so policymakers can implement change and bring a package to the assembly. 

Boyce said there are several items she’d like to see included in the package. She says that in her experience, teachers "like it being free" to become a teacher, and want higher salaries. In the state of Pennsylvania, teachers have to pay an application fee when applying for teaching certification. 

She also wants to see stronger support for teachers early in their careers, as well as "meaningful" mentoring and opportunities for growth into leadership positions. Also, she hopes that through the summit, the group is able to come up with ways to elevate the profession to attract highly-qualified candidates. 

“The cost of college nationally and in Pennsylvania continues to go up while the relative salary for wages of teachers, particularly compared to other professions that require a bachelor's degree, has stagnated,” Boyce said.

Any changes that are decided upon during Thursday's summit are expected to take effect in fall 2023. 

Information will be presented to The Pennsylvania 2030 Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness this coming January. 

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