Posts Tagged ‘School Vouchers’

No Teacher Left Behind? Not so in Pennsylvania

November 18, 2009

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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An Open Letter to Governor Rendell

October 14, 2009

An open letter to Governor Rendell concerning the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s inability to process teacher certification applications in under 3 months.

Dear Governor Rendell,

I am a certified teacher who recently became one of your constituents. In order to establish a new life as a public school teacher in your state, I have submitted my application for a Pennsylvania Teaching License. Herein lies an issue that I would like to bring to your attention.

I, like you, am concerned about Pennsylvania’s quality of public education and its ability to find, attract, and recruit teachers. Therefore, it is important to note that Pennsylvania’s Teacher Certification System hurts and hinders this effort.

I submitted my application for Pennsylvania teacher certification on October 2nd and have been informed that, due to a backlog caused by under-staffing at the Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation, my application will take three months to process.

Three months is an eternity in Educational time. Not only does such a long period hinder a school from hiring new and enthusiastic teachers for entire semesters, but it increases the likelihood that prospective teachers will pursue other career paths as a result of having to seek other employment in the interim.

Likewise, the feeling of being trapped in Bureaucratic Purgatory has a disheartening and discouraging effect on teachers who should otherwise be excited about their chosen career path.

By your own Department of Education’s estimates, Pennsylvania is projected to have a shortage of over 12,000 teachers in the near future. Reforming and better staffing the Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation will not only help assuage this problem, but it will stimulate the economy by creating jobs for both teachers and prospective Department of Education employees.

I hope that you will take the appropriate action to resolve this issue and I look forward to future news of Department of Education reforms.

Best Regards,
James Clarke and mutually concerned constituents.

Important Contact Information:

Call Governor Rendell at (717) 787-2500
Fax Governor Rendell at (717) 772-8284
Email Governor Rendell by clicking here

Call the Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation at (717)787-3356
Call the Pennsylvania Office of Press and Communications at (717) 783-9802
Call Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak at (717) 787-5820