Pennsylvania has a teacher shortage. If we do nothing, our children will suffer consequences like overcrowded classrooms, impersonal instruction, less access to courses and programs they’re offered now, and less time to help our most vulnerable students, resulting in more students being left behind. I have a bill that will help get more teachers into Pennsylvania classrooms, but some have misinterpreted or been intentionally dishonest about the plain language of the bill and the intent behind its introduction.
Senate Bill 99 is a proposal to help fill the vacancies at our local Lancaster County schools, as well as schools across the state, with highly qualified candidates through programs that help attract more students into the teaching profession.
Specifically, Senate Bill 99:
- Strengthens the Commonwealth’s dual enrollment and dual credit programs, which allows students to earn college credits for courses they take while still in high school, saving the student time and money when working toward a degree or certification. Not all schools participate in this program so this bill would ensure that every student has the opportunity to get a jump start on their higher education goals.
- Establishes an optional program of study for education through our Career & Technical Education Centers, providing another opportunity for students to begin taking courses early in their education career and receive credit toward future credentials, certificates, or degrees.
- Requires the PA Department of Education to appoint an individual who will be responsible for reviewing data to ensure programs aimed at addressing the teacher shortage are actually working. It’s important to note that this position is not new, it’s simply vacant right now, so my bill would ensure the role is always filled. The bill does NOT give any authority to the person in this role to make any mandates regarding the hiring of prospective teachers. They set goals and issue a report, period.
For a more detailed explanation of what Senate Bill 99 does and does not do, please watch this video:
Pennsylvania is not unique in our struggle to fill vital teaching positions; around the country teachers are leaving the profession at a high rate of speed, and the pipeline to fill those retiring educators is all but drying up. The problem can be seen close to home in Lancaster County as schools have eliminated courses and programs due to a lack of qualified educators to teach them.
Lancaster County school administrators have said:
“Applicant pool is significantly less than it used to be.”
“Some positions have been unfilled all year.”
“This position remains vacant due to a lack of qualified candidates.”
“Very few applicants.”
“We’ve had to hire an outside recruiter to fill vacancies.”
(Note: All stats and feedback were obtained as of April 1, 2022. The individual school districts wish to remain anonymous.)
Myths vs Facts
I know reading legislation and understanding the impact of proposed language can be difficult, so here is a quick guide on How to Read a Bill for your reference. Unfortunately, it’s clear some have chosen to intentionally mislead the public about Senate Bill 99, which only serves to distract from the very real issue I’m trying to address – Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage and the negative impacts it has on our children’s education.
This is not a partisan issue – the prime sponsor of this bill in the House is a Republican and that bill is also co-sponsored by well-respected conservatives. So here are some common myths about the bill followed by the actual facts:
To effectively address the teacher shortage and get more qualified teachers into our children’s classrooms, I will need the continued engagement of my constituents and local leaders, as an ongoing dialogue between lawmakers and those they represent is absolutely critical to succeed.
As such, please fill out my Voice Your Concerns Form with any further questions, thoughts, or concerns you may have. I firmly believe that an open and productive conversation is necessary as we seek to build a stronger Pennsylvania, together.