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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 31, 2020 11:20 AM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Educator certification and employment for immigrants in Pennsylvania
I will shortly re-introduce SB 992 from last session, which will eliminate barriers to educator certification and employment for those who are immigrants in Pennsylvania.

Each year the PA Department of Education (PDE), receives inquiries regarding certification application requirements tied to citizenship and/or immigration status. Pennsylvania is facing a steep decline in the number of qualified teaching candidates, especially in hard to staff areas like special education, English Language instruction, and STEM. The number of new in-state teaching certificates has dropped by 71% since 2009. Pennsylvania’s gap between students of color (33.1%) and teachers of color (TOC) remains among the most unequal in the country. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) participants are unable to attain educator certification in Pennsylvania.

PDE’s Teacher Information Management System (TIMS) prevents non-U.S. citizens from completing an application for certification unless they are applying for certificate to teach a foreign language or hold an immigrant visa (Green Card) and sign an affidavit of intent to become a U.S citizen. Removal of this barrier could help the Commonwealth address its teacher shortage areas, including one of the worst shortages of racially diverse educators in the country.

My legislation would amend the qualifications of a teacher by adding that Department certified or permitted teachers who hold a valid immigrant visa, work visa, or valid employment authorization document which allows them to work in the United States are eligible to teach in the public schools of the Commonwealth.

It would also amend the state certificates language by allowing a person holding a valid immigrant visa, work visa, or valid employment authorization document which allows them to work in the United States would be eligible to receive a state certificate or permit.

Finally, the bill requests that the Office of Attorney General to review the law and provide a current interpretation.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB165