Act 91 Message to Ed Prep Program Leaders
January 11, 2022
Message from Deputy Secretary and Commissioner Garcia on Act 91 and Other Updates
Dear Education Preparation Program Leaders,
Happy 2022. I'm pleased to share several updates relevant to the educator preparation community.
Act 91 of 2021
Late last year, the General Assembly passed and Governor Wolf signed Act 91 to provide immediate, targeted relief to schools in response to the teacher shortage crisis. While Act 91 focuses on the particular acuity in substitute staffing, PDE continues to pursue comprehensive workforce strategies including expansion of school leader residency initiatives, implementation of revisions to Chapter 49, and a host of postsecondary affordability strategies.
Recognizing the emergency conditions we're living and working in, Act 91 includes provisions to allow student teachers to receive compensation as substitutes if these candidates have at least one satisfactory observation related to their student teaching program. We encourage educator preparation programs to consult with local school entities in developing these policies, to provide qualified candidates with guidance on options for additional substitute teaching service under Act 91, and to contact PDE's certification resource account (firstname.lastname@example.org) with implementation questions.
Directory of School Employment Opportunities by County
As a reminder, PDE maintains general contact information for Pennsylvania's public and charter schools, career and technology centers, and intermediate units, as well as links to their associated employment opportunities where available. If you aren't already, please share these resources with your program's students as they approach spring 2022 commencement and explore professional opportunities.
Anecdotally, I've learned from educator preparation program leaders that, due to the quality of our educator programs, several states recruit and offer employment to our prospective candidates when they begin their student teaching experience. This practice further complicates the ability of our school entities to appropriately staff their classrooms and buildings. This was not an issue when Pennsylvania graduated more educators than our schools could hire; but that is no longer the case.
While it is encouraging that 2018-19 and 2019-20 data show an uptick in educator preparation program enrollments, a start in reversing the precipitous decline of the previous decade, we have yet to gauge enrollment trends during the pandemic, specifically the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years. Act 91 is premised on making the education profession more enticing to more individuals, whether they are recent high school graduates or those seeking to change careers. We also need to welcome back those learners who aspired to enter the education profession but encountered barriers that prevented them from completing their studies.
We have a long road ahead and we must travel along it together. PDE continues to welcome your thoughts, ideas, and comments on the imperative for maintaining in-person instruction this school year and next, while working to grow, diversify, and strengthen our educator human capital systems for the long term.
You have my very best wishes for 2022,