PITTSBURGH, (KDKA) — It’s the last weekend of summer for many students as the majority of school districts return to school on Tuesday, but there’s a growing problem with not enough teachers.
“We’ve been feeling it in math, special education and science,” said Nina Esposito-Visgitis, who’s the president of Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.
For the last few years, there has been a national teacher shortage and recently Pennsylvania has started to see the impact.
Esposito-Visgitis cites low pay, pension plan changes and less respect as reasons why fewer college students are going to get teaching certifications.
Now with coronavirus bringing up more concerns in the classroom, the American Federation of Teachers said they are seeing a mass exodus they call the “brain drain.”
“They have parents to worry about that they are taking care of at home so they have been forced to leave. They are retiring even though they didn’t want to because they needed to take care of themselves too. They are human beings,” Esposito-Visgitis said about teachers retiring early across the country.
As shortage concerns grow in the Commonwealth, lawmakers are taking a look at the problem.
“I think we really need to take a look at what we are doing in Pennsylvania legislatively and by statue and try to encourage good teachers to come into Pennsylvania,” said Senator Camera Bartolotta.
Bartolotta is introducing new legislation this fall session that would help bring out-of-state teachers to Pennsylvania.
“It would take away some of the barriers that would require them to retake tests and be recertified for things they are already capable of doing in other states. It’s not requiring less of them, it’s just making sure their talents and education and experience transfers,” Bartolotta told KDKA.
While the bill is still in the infancy stage, the teachers union can see the benefit.
“I think that would be a good thing to be able to have more reciprocity,” Esposito-Visgitis said.
The Senate returns to voting session next where Senator Bartolotta hopes to introduce the new bill to the Education Committee.