Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Nashville mourns six dead in the latest mass shooting, the EPA takes public input on a proposal to clean up Pennsylvania's drinking water, and find ways to get more Zzz's during Sleep Awareness Month.

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A shooting leaves six dead at a school in Nashville, the White House commends Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to pause judicial reform, and mayors question the reach of state and federal authorities over local decisions.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Report Recommends Ways to Fix PA Teacher, Staff Shortages

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Friday, October 21, 2022   

A new report confirms what many Pennsylvania families already know: The shortage of educators and school staffers has reached a crisis level in some public schools. The National Education Association is making recommendations to fix that.

Pennsylvania serves more than 1.7 million students in grades K through 12.

Chris Lilienthal, communications director for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the staffing shortage has lasted more than a decade, but was supercharged during the pandemic. It includes support staff, from office and cafeteria workers to custodians and bus drivers. The report laid out some strategies Lilienthal said Pennsylvania could adopt, at the state and local level, but they'll require more money to attract more job candidates.

"So, we really do need to look at making sure that schools are fairly funded," he said, "that they have enough resources to be able to offer competitive pay and benefits."

The report also recommended more options for student debt forgiveness. Lilienthal noted that the Biden administration addressed that crisis on a national level, but PSEA would like to see some targeted state debt-relief programs developed for educators.

The report also recommended a focus on better working conditions in collective-bargaining agreements and accepting more teachers' input into the curriculum and school resources. Lilienthal added that the staff shortages have had a huge impact on students and teachers, not only in terms of learning but overall well-being.

"We really think that school districts need to look at providing more mental-health resources for teachers and staff as well," he said. "They have experienced tremendous impacts from the pandemic, and mental and emotional health have been impacted. And we need to make sure that they have those support as well as students."

He said many districts are having a particularly difficult time recruiting teachers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math - which means more students are missing out on those opportunities.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania State Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Education, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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