With bipartisan support, student teacher stipend program now receiving applications - TAI News
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Governor Josh Shapiro and Bipartisan Legislative Leaders Announce Opening of PA Student Teacher Support Program Application. (PAcast)

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro and a bipartisan group of legislative leaders on April 10 announced the opening of the application period for a student teacher stipend program that they say will help address the state’s teacher shortage.

The PA Student Teacher Support Program will provide eligible student teachers with as much as $15,000 in stipends, Shapiro’s office says. The funding for the $10 million program comes from Act 33, a bill amending the Pennsylvania Public School Code that the governor signed into law in 2023.

“Today, we are here as Democrats and Republicans, investing in commonsense solutions to address the real problems Pennsylvanians face,” Shapiro said, according to an announcement from his office. “We want more Pennsylvanians to become teachers — and that’s why we fought to include $10 million for student teacher stipends in last year’s budget and why my budget this year boosts funding for the Student Teacher Support Program to $15 million.”

According to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which administers the stipend program, Pennsylvania certified about 20,000 new teachers each year as recently as a decade ago. Now, the agency says, the number is closer to 5,000-6,000.

In Pennsylvania, anyone seeking to become a teacher must get student teaching experience first, for which they do not receive pay, even as they must take on additional expenses such as transportation and professional attire; the support program is intended to fill in that financial gap for aspiring educators, the governor’s office and the Higher Education Assistance Agency say.

“The roles that these young people are stepping into will shape lives,” Republican Rep. Jesse Topper said. “They won’t just help with grades and test scores. They will shape lives — and we need to do whatever we can to ensure that this is a career field that our young people, like my two boys who are 17 and 15, if they want to go into it, we need to make sure they can go into it.”

According to the Higher Education Assistance Agency, applicants for the student teacher support program must be enrolled in a Pennsylvania higher education institution; be enrolled in a state Department of Education-approved educator preparation program; have a grade point average of at least 3.0; be placed in a position as a student teacher; and have obtained the necessary clearances to work in schools.

To receive stipend funding, student teacher applicants must also agree to work as a teacher in Pennsylvania for at least three years.

Student teachers will be awarded stipends on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the governor’s office. They will typically receive up to $10,000 but are eligible for an additional $5,000 for working in high-need areas.

“This truly was a bipartisan effort – and I want to thank my colleagues in both the House and the Senate. If we are going to deliver a high-quality education to each and every child who enters the system in Pennsylvania, we must have a process that ensures that the best and brightest go into education,” said Republican state Sen. Ryan Aument. “To Governor Shapiro –thank you for your visionary leadership and your commitment to delivering a high-quality education here in Pennsylvania.”

Applications for the program opened at 9 a.m. on April 11, and the Higher Education Assistance Agency reported that it had already received 3,000 applications by 11 a.m. that day, according to ABC 27 in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and the governor’s office hope the program will help address the state’s shortage of nearly 5,500 teachers.

“By providing financial support to support teachers we are not only investing in the future of education, but also addressing the critical teacher shortage in this Commonwealth,” said Democratic Sen. Wayne Fontana, chair of the Higher Education Assistance Agency board. “As the Governor says — this is the kind of stuff that we all need to come together to get done.”

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