No Teacher Left Behind? Not so in Pennsylvania

According to its Department of Education’s estimates, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a projected shortage of more than 12,000 teachers. This alarming statistic is exacerbated by Pennsylvania’s Teacher Recruitment Bureaucracy.

Due to under staffing at the Department of Education, a prospective teacher in Pennsylvania has to wait approximately 3 months for the processing of his or her application for teacher certification  (the official word is 8-10 weeks, while unofficial sources within the Department of Education say that the process takes 12 weeks).

While Pennsylvania’s Department of Education assures prospective teachers that their applications are being processed in the most efficient manner”, it neglects to mention that its staff of 20-25 evaluators process around 66,000 applications per year. If you do the math (66,000/261/20 or 25) each evaluator has to process around 10-12 applications per work day.

Whether or not this is an unusually burdensome work load for application evaluators is open to debate.

While 3 months may seem like a short time, it is an eternity in the life of a teacher. Not only does this lengthy waiting period hinder a school from hiring new and enthusiastic teachers for an entire semester, but it increases the likelihood that prospective teachers will pursue other career paths (and ultimately leave the education field altogether) as a result of having to seek other employment in the interim.

As the wife of one excellent, yet jaded teacher put it:

…he did indeed opt for another career path solely for the purpose of feeding and providing a home for his family. Only in the past year has he returned to searching info in the education field. Why did it take so long? He was too busy working at his hourly job. By the time he arrived home, he wanted to spend time with his family before falling into bed, exhausted. There was no time to continue the certification process and/or job search.

A recent letter about this issue was sent to the office of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell; this letter encouraged the Governor to address this problem by adding more staff to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation. In response, his office replied:

… Your suggestions were passed along to the Governor for his review and consideration. Governor Rendell appreciates you taking the time to bring this to his attention. He does not take the input of Pennsylvania’s residents lightly and he always tries to keep their viewpoints in mind when making important decisions.

If you have any additional questions or concerns pertaining to state related issues in the future, please do not hesitate to contact this office again.

To this date, however, no action has been taken. If you would like to contact Governor Rendell about this, you can do so by:

Calling Governor Rendell at (717) 787-2500
Faxing Governor Rendell at (717) 772-8284
Emailing Governor Rendell by clicking here


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