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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 23, 2022 08:55 AM
From: Representative Jason Ortitay and Rep. Gina H. Curry
To: All House members
Subject: Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Diversity
In the near future, we plan on introducing legislation to increase the diversity and overall complement of our education workforce.

Through conversations with various stakeholders, we learned different ways and approaches to attracting people of all backgrounds and gender into the education field, and how to increase participation in education-related jobs.

Research suggests that a diverse education workforce can play an important part in closing achievement gaps and improving school climate. For example, a recent study by Vanderbilt University linked teachers’ race with the odds of African American students being labeled as gifted, and research from Johns Hopkins University exploring the prevalence and impact of implicit bias found that race biases teachers’ expectations for students of color.

Nationally, only 18 percent of teachers are persons of color; and in Pennsylvania, the figure is just 4 percent, compared with 29 percent of the state’s public school enrollment.
  • Since 1996, the enrollment of African American students in Pennsylvania postsecondary education majors has decreased by 60 percent.
  • This trend carries into bachelor’s degree production in education. The number of graduates has decreased by 39 percent since 2000.
  • The decrease in diverse graduates is even higher: African American graduates in education have decreased by 71 percent since 2000.
  • In 2014, there were only 29 African American male education graduates in Pennsylvania and 20 Latino male graduates. These declines create significant challenges for schools trying to diversify their staffs.
Pennsylvania, like other states, is facing a steep decline in the number of qualified teaching candidates, particularly in rural and urban school districts and for hard-to-staff areas like special education, English language instruction, and STEM.

Since 1996, the number of undergraduate education majors in Pennsylvania has declined by 55 percent. Since 2010, the number of newly certified teachers (Instructional I) has dropped by 63 percent.

During the course of our meetings relating to the diversification of the education workforce, we heard that dual enrollment programs as well as programs of study in the Career and Technical (CTC) field can go a long way to increasing diversity in the education workforce.

In order to address these concerns, we are proposing several items that we believe can enhance the diversity of our education workforce. First, our legislation would strengthen the Commonwealth’s dual enrollment and dual credit programs, allowing more students from all backgrounds to receive college credits while in high school and begin working toward their bachelor’s degree. Second, our legislation would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to appoint an individual within PDE who will be responsible for coordinating teacher recruitment, retention and diversity. Third, our legislation would require the establishment of a program of study through our Career and Technical Education Programs for occupations under the Education Classification of Instructional Programs Code. Finally, our legislation would instruct PDE to gather and publish data relating to race and gender of individuals in teacher preparation programs, teacher certification, and teacher retention as well as establish a baseline for the current race and gender of those individuals in the education workforce.

These initiatives will begin to address the state’s education workforce shortage and lack of diversity, as well as provide all of our K-12 students the benefits of a robust and diverse classroom presence.

We hope you will join us in sponsoring this legislation.