On July 18, 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released The Foundation of Our Economy: Pennsylvania Educator Workforce Strategy, 2022-2025, PDE’s strategic plan to recruit and retain more educators across the commonwealth. The strategy was developed after conducting extensive feedback sessions with vested partners across Pennsylvania and contains 50 steps that PDE and its partners will use to address the commonwealth’s educator shortage.
The last few years have been among the most challenging for those working in schools, and the number of new educators entering the profession has declined as a result: a decade ago, roughly 20,000 new teachers entered the workforce each year, while last year only 6,000 did so. To make matters worse, the rate of educators leaving the profession continues to accelerate. This means that schools are having a harder time than ever before in filling critical staff positions.
Additionally, by 2025, the commonwealth’s K-12 population will have higher proportions of students of color, yet less than 7% of teachers in Pennsylvania are people of color. Research has proven that students learn best when they have the opportunity to do so from teachers whose life experience reflects their own. Meeting the needs of the diverse student population will require a significant increase in the diversity of Pennsylvania’s educator workforce.
The Foundation of Our Economy 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.
Additionally, recently approved amendments to the Public School Code will complement the efforts and actions contained in the educator workforce strategy. The bill — negotiated by the Wolf Administration — improves pathways to Pennsylvania certification for teachers prepared out of state, including career and technical education teachers, establishes a Committee on Education Talent Recruitment within PDE to develop programs of study for high school students interested in pursuing careers in education, establishes a Talent Recruitment Grant Program for colleges to increase participation in the education workforce, and waives the Basic Skills assessment for education candidates for three years.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the PA Department of Education’s website.