HARRISBURG — The U.S. Department of Education has warned that Pennsylvania, like every other state, is facing a shortage of teachers.
The problem is only going to get worse, experts say.
There are pockets of problem areas in the commonwealth and some teaching specialties where it’s hard to find enough educators, state and federal data shows. But evidence of an overall statewide shortage is less obvious, for the time being.
“It is not accurate to say Pennsylvania currently has a teacher shortage,” said Wythe Keever, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “There is evidence however that a teacher shortage may be rapidly approaching.”
The problem is two-fold, he said.
The state will soon be hit with a wave of retirements and there are fewer college students majoring in education so there won’t be as many would-be teachers graduating to replace those who retire, he said.
The PSEA has 180,000 members. The union expects that more than 20,000 of them will retire within the next decade, Keever said.
“The Public School Employees’ Retirement System projects the same trend,” he said.
An analysis completed by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association early in 2017 found that since 2010, Pennsylvania has seen a 58 percent decrease in the number of teaching certificates issued. They also found that the number of new teachers graduating from college in 2016 tumbled 38 percent compared to 2000.