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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 15, 2021 04:22 PM
From: Representative Stephen Kinsey and Rep. Carol Hill-Evans
To: All House members
Subject: Substitute Teacher Shortage
The teacher shortage is real and continues to grow, and the Commonwealth is in the middle of an extreme shortage.  The shortage is a problem for the entire education system. It jeopardizes a student’s ability to learn and contributes to the opportunity and achievement gaps among students. On average, teachers were in the classroom 94 percent of the school year, missing nearly 11 days.
Substitute teachers play a vital role in maintaining momentum and continuity in the classroom. When students’ regularly assigned teachers are unavailable due to illness, hiring shortages, or professional development needs, substitute teachers help fill in the gaps so student learning is not interrupted.

When substitutes are not available, many schools rely on other teachers to fill in during their prep periods – time that should be dedicated to thoughtful planning, professional collaboration, or other academic preparation. When neither substitutes nor a teacher on a prep period are available, students must do without a teacher in their classroom for a day, a week or even longer. Without a pool of consistently available, qualified substitutes, schools can become caught in a frantic and expensive game of catch-up throughout the year and students pay the price.

This is why we plan to introduce legislation that would allow retired teachers to return to the classroom to serve as day-to-day or long-term substitutes for up to 90 days without interruption of their PSERS retirement benefit. This legislation would mirror current law that allows state employees to return to service for a certain period of time without affecting their SERS retirement benefits.

In 2016 we passed into law Substitute Teaching Permit language (Act 86) which allows student teachers to work as substitute teachers in certain circumstances, this was a first step toward providing or school districts with much needed human capital.

We urge you to co-sponsor this next step in the movement to improve substitute teacher availability across the Commonwealth.

Introduced as HB967