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Pennsylvania is facing a teacher shortage and the time to do something about it is now. The number of college students beginning teacher prep programs in the state has dropped by 59 percent in the past three years alone and the number of teaching certificates issued by the Department of Education has also declined by 66 percent.
Coupled with this is the likelihood that 20,000 Pennsylvania educators will retire over the next 10 years, and still others will leave in mid-career for jobs with better salaries and benefits and more desirable working conditions.
Stop-gap measures are problematic because when teachers are not fully prepared they are more likely to leave the profession. This not only decreases student achievement but creates additional expenses to recruit and train replacements.
What can be done? Recent research indicates that shortages could be almost eliminated if we reduce attrition by fifty percent. This can be achieved by improving working conditions, offering more preparation and better mentoring, and providing sufficient resources to allow teachers to do their jobs.
If this is an issue that concerns you, we urge you to make your thoughts known to your legislators.