February 24, 2024 Philadelphia, PA – Today, Senator Hughes brought together a large coalition of fellow lawmakers, education leaders, and teacher advocates to address Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage crisis. The press conference was held following recent reports of record teacher shortages in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth- teacher certificates issued in PA declined by 71% between 2022 and 2011.

“This is a call to action. We need more teachers,” said Senator Hughes. “The collective fight and the collective work to get more teachers into more classrooms is on. We are implementing solutions like $10 million dollars for student teacher stipends and creating CTE and dual enrollment programs to get high school students excited about careers in education, but we need to do more.”

Senator Hughes highlighted the General Assembly’s responsibility to address the Commonwealth Court decision that found Pennsylvania’s education funding system unconstitutional. Governor Shapiro answered that call along with recommendations from the Basic Education Funding Commission in his recent budget proposal that included over $1 billion dollars for basic education funding.

Senator Hughes explained, “We are fighting for historic investments in education funding, but to make those investments work we need more teachers.”

Education leaders and advocates from across the Commonwealth joined the press conference to stress the need for more action to support both new and existing teachers. Discussed solutions included increasing investments in the student teacher stipend program, providing grants and hiring bonuses to incentive teachers, increasing pay for teachers, and introducing a Parent University to help teachers and parents collaborate and work together for the best outcomes for students.

“We are looking at every solution possible because failure on this issue is not an option,” said Senator Hughes.

While the crisis is very real for students and current teachers, the coalition noted room for optimism. The state has invested $10 million in student teacher stipends and Governor Shapiro has proposed $15 million for the FY25-26 budget. And the CTE Teacher Program at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber is a great example of what can be achieved when we expose high school students to teaching opportunities and mentorships.

“By working together and across the aisle with our Republican colleagues, we can deliver more for our teachers,” said Senator Hughes.

Speakers who joined the press conference included, Senator Jimmy Dillon; Representative Danielle Friel Otten; Dr. Tony Watlington, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia; Reginald Streater, President, Philadelphia School Board; Jerry Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Aaron Chapin, President, PSEA; Sharon Ward, Deputy Chief Education Officer, Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia; Monika Shealey, Dean of Temple College of Education and Human Development; Dr. Sarah Ulrich, Associate Dean, Drexel School University School of Education; Sharif El-Mekki, CEO, The Center for Black Educator Development; Laura Boyce, PA Executive Director, Teach Plus; and student teacher and SLA Beeber CTE faculty and students.

A full video of the press conference is available on Senator Hughes’ website.