HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania students could soon get hands-on training to become teachers.
Beginning next school year, vocational educational programs will offer k-12 training for students, giving them a taste of what it’s like to be an educator.
“The goal here is to introduce Pennsylvania students to opportunities working in education, at a time where they’re exploring their career possibilities," said Chris Lilienthal, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Lilienthal said the program will hopefully begin to cut down on the state’s teacher shortage.
“We know Pennsylvania has a teacher shortage; we know that we need to expand the teacher pipeline," said Lilienthal.
Recent data from Penn State seems to justify the need to expand educational training to high school students.
Back in 2010, roughly 15,000 people got their certification to teach in the Commonwealth. Ten years later, that number dropped to just over 5,500 people getting their teaching certificates.
The drop is causing a "severe staffing challenge," according to the report.
Lilienthal says the drop in people getting their teaching certificates is due to several barriers.
“[Such as] the costs of tuition and the costs and difficulty of the certification process," said Lilienthal.
He adds that education training can increase the number of teachers of color in the state, which currently account for 7% of all Pennsylvania teachers. Meanwhile, 37% of all Pennsylvania students are students of color.
“We need to do a better job of reaching people of color who would make great teachers," said Lilienthal. "This program is a great opportunity for that.”
The Department of Education is also looking into “Grow Your Own” programs, in order to extend apprenticeship opportunities to teacher candidates.
“Future doctors, future lawyers, future business leaders and entrepreneurs, they need to get a great education and we want to make sure they have great teachers," said Lilienthal.