Schlossberg bill to ‘Grow Our Own Educators’ passes House

HARRISBURG, May 1 – The state House of Representatives today passed legislation that would establish a “Grow Our Own Educators” Program in Pennsylvania. The program would provide financial assistance, including pathways for educators to help support high-need schools in geographic areas that have hard-to-staff teaching positions, according to the bill’s author Rep. Mike Schlossberg.

“It is so important for Pennsylvania students to have teachers who come from the community where the students live. This legislation would help to grow and cultivate teachers so that students who face the biggest threat of a teacher shortage — students of color and students living in rural communities -- have a pipeline of people who are passionate about teaching ready to inspire them for the future,” said Schlossberg, D-Lehigh.

Schlossberg said school districts across the state are in dire need of teachers of color and teachers with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The teacher shortage poses a real and growing crisis as district after district reports a need for additional qualified educators in classrooms. The shortage threatens students’ ability to learn, reduces teacher effectiveness and causes high teacher turnover.

Research has shown that a method to address teacher shortages and teacher diversity is the establishment of “grow-your-own” programs. These programs reach out to members within the community who are already heavily involved with a school district and supports them to become teachers, including paraprofessionals, instructional aides and others.

Part of the program proposed by Schlossberg’s H.B. 141 would equip aspiring teachers with the supports necessary to become a certified educator, including potential grants through a new Grow-Your-Own Educators Grant Program within the state Department of Education.