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Pennsylvania launches website to encourage more people to become teachers

Pennsylvania launches website to encourage more people to become teachers
Pennsylvania launches website to encourage more people to become teachers 03:22

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Shapiro administration on Wednesday introduced a new website called Teach in PA.

As KDKA-TV money editor Jon Delano explains, it's part of an effort to deal with a growing teacher shortage in Pennsylvania.

Almost every school district has experienced this, educators tell KDKA-TV, and Nina Esposito-Visgitis with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers has seen it up close.

"What's scary is that the number of students, people going into education is really dropping. Some of those institutions are closing their schools of education, which is terrifying to me," says Esposito-Visgitis.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education confirms that the number of teachers getting certified is about a quarter of what it used to be.

"About ten years ago it was about 20,000 new educators being certified per year. More recently, it's about 5,000 to 6,000 per year," says Casey Smith, the director of communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Earlier this year, Gov. Josh Shapiro asked lawmakers to give a special tax credit for anyone entering the teaching profession. The legislature has not yet passed this, so now the administration has created a new website, Teach In PA, to help those interested in teaching understand both the process and benefits of teaching.

"We wanted to give them all the tools, information and resources they needed to see if being an educator would be a good fit for them," says Smith.

Smith calls teachers the real influencers of today's young people.  That may be true, but educators say students see how teachers are disrespected and not always supported by the larger community.

"Students see that, they see in high school – that's where you want to get them at the latest – they see that teachers are not given the support they need," says Esposito-Visgitis. "They aren't given the funds they need. They aren't even given the support they need in the classroom as they cut paraprofessionals. So teachers are doing the jobs of teachers, paraprofessionals, parents – they're doing it all."

"Seems that over the years, teachers have been blamed with everything that is wrong with students not learning and students not being prepared for school," says Dr. Linda Hippert, a professor at Point Park University.

That's where parents who nurture childhood learning and support their teachers play an important role, says Hippert, a former teacher, principal and school superintendent.

She appreciates the governor's efforts to incentivize more young people to enter teaching and to streamline teacher certifications – but, in the end, it comes down to love of children.

"We can teach you how to teach, the strategies of curriculum and presenting. But we cannot teach you to love children and that's where it begins," notes Hippert.

You have to want to be with kids to be a teacher, says Hippert, and while starting salaries are not what they should be in many districts, it is possible now to make in the six figures as a teacher.

There is also job security and a pension and student loan forgiveness. 

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