Teach Plus Celebrates Big Bipartisan Steps Forward in Addressing Teacher Shortages in Pennsylvania

Teach Plus Celebrates Big Bipartisan Steps Forward in Addressing Teacher Shortages in Pennsylvania

HB 301 and SB 843 Provide for Paid Student Teaching and Improved Data Collection to Strengthen Educator Workforce

Harrisburg, PA, December 14, 2023 — Last night, Governor Shapiro finalized the 2023-24 state budget by signing into law two school code bills, HB 301 (now Act 33) and SB 843 (now Act 35). These bills accomplish two major priorities of Teach Plus PA teachers and our partners in the #PANeedsTeachers coalition: paid student teaching and improved data collection, both of which will help expand, strengthen, and diversify Pennsylvania’s educator workforce in the midst of a dire teacher shortage crisis.

With the passage of HB 301, student teachers in Pennsylvania, along with the mentor teachers who support them, will be eligible for state-funded stipends for the first time. $10 million was appropriated in this year’s budget, and student teachers will be eligible for stipends of $10,000, with additional funding for those in hard-to-staff schools.

“I had to work two jobs while student teaching, and I still relied on my parents to support me,” said Nicole Wyglendowski, a Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow and special education teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Future teachers should have the dignity and respect to focus on their career during student teaching. This stipend means that future teachers of all socioeconomic backgrounds can still pursue their teaching career. This is a huge game-changer for the teacher pipeline.”

Additionally, SB 843 will allow for collection of critical new data to help diagnose and address Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage. Most critically, it will allow the Department of Education to identify the number of teacher vacancies across the commonwealth so we can understand the scope and distribution of the teacher shortage. It will also allow for the collection and analysis of additional educator supply, demand, and preparation data; the creation of a statewide teacher job posting board; the publication of an annual report on educator workforce data; and a simpler process for out-of-state teachers to become licensed in Pennsylvania.

“We’ve heard a lot about Pennsylvania’s teacher crisis. However, there are still discouraging unknowns because of incomplete data,” said Tim Crane, a Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow and social studies teacher in Camp Hill School District. “Given our need to confront this crisis responsibly, we need legislation that requires the state to collect data on teacher vacancies. Right now, we can’t even say how many teacher vacancies exist across Pennsylvania, where they are, and what subjects they’re in. It’s long past time to face the most difficult facts of this crisis, and we will, but first, we have to find them.”

These policy solutions came out of the #PANeedsTeachers report, released in early 2023 by Teach Plus and the National Center on Education & the Economy. Over the past year, Teach Plus PA teacher leaders and staff helped develop these legislative proposals, met with dozens of legislators and staff to build bipartisan support, testified before the House and Senate Education Committees, held press conferences and events, and mobilized hundreds of other educators to support their efforts.

“We’re delighted to see overwhelming bipartisan support for these common-sense first steps to address the teacher shortage crisis,” said Pennsylvania Policy Manager Zakiya Stewart. “We recognize that there is much more to be done to expand, diversify, and strengthen Pennsylvania’s educator workforce, and we look forward to working with Governor Shapiro and members of the General Assembly in 2024 to build upon these wins.”

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students. teachplus.org

CONTACT: Laura Boyce, lboyce@teachplus.org, 215-429-5151