House Education Committee advances bill to remove educator certification barriers for Pennsylvania immigrants

HARRISBURG, June 6 – Legislation which would eliminate barriers to educator certification for immigrants in Pennsylvania advanced in the PA House Education Committee, Majority Chairman Peter Schweyer announced today.

“Pennsylvania is facing an immense teacher shortage crisis and school districts across the commonwealth need every tool possible to find and retain qualified educators to teach our students,” said Schweyer, D-Lehigh. “Right now, immigrants in Pennsylvania who have the visas to work in the United States cannot apply for educator certification. This bill would allow prospective teachers with valid immigrant visas, work visas or employment authorization to apply for certification.”

According to Schweyer, under House Bill 1067, the Public School Code would be amended so department certified or permitted teachers who hold a valid immigrant visa, work visa, or valid employment authorization document which allows them to work in the United States would be eligible to apply for educator certification to teach in public schools in Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, the bill’s prime sponsor, said her legislation would create new avenues of opportunity for qualified and trained immigrants.

“Pennsylvania’s lack of teachers is worsening, but qualified immigrants can help with this teaching crisis,” said Cepeda-Freytiz, D-Berks. “Employers are struggling to fill vacancies; we need to expand a much-needed access to teacher certification. This is also about diversity and advancing our workforce. There are hundreds of bilingual, professional individuals unemployed, waiting for an opportunity while our educational job market is collapsing.”

“I commend Rep. Cepeda-Freytiz for this important legislation. We already have similar programs in Pennsylvania for doctors and nurses, its commonsense to expand it for educators to help address teacher shortages and get already-qualified teachers in the classrooms,” added Schweyer.

The bill will now be brought to the full House for consideration.