Shapiro administration announces $379K grant for teacher apprenticeship program

Image file: 05062014 ED Goes Back to School 14. (Flickr/US Department of Education)

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration has announced a grant to a Susquehanna regional education agency for the development of a new teacher apprenticeship program.

The state departments of Education and Labor & Industry partnered last year to create the Certified Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program to address teacher shortages in the state. Through that program, the departments are providing a $379,000 grant to the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit for fleshing out an apprenticeship framework, which will ultimately be used elsewhere in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s regional intermediate units provide educational services to local school districts.

“Fewer people have pursued teacher certification in Pennsylvania in recent years, and that’s created staffing challenges in schools throughout the Commonwealth,” Labor & Industry Secretary Nancy Walker said in a press release. “The Shapiro Administration is committed to reversing this trend through targeted investments in our workforce. The Certified Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program moves us closer to big-picture solutions while providing real career opportunities for individuals dedicated to the education of our children.”

The apprenticeship program is intended to provide opportunities for aspiring educators to earn money while training. It’s aimed at paraprofessionals, teachers’ aides and other school district personnel, including those currently teaching on an emergency basis due to lack of staffing.

According to an analysis by the Pennsylvania State University College of Education’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, there are now more teachers working on emergency permits than newly certified teachers coming out of educator preparation programs in Pennsylvania.

The Shapiro administration calls the apprenticeship program a first-of-its-kind effort to ensure schools have adequate staffing. While there are more than 30 education apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania, most are focused on early childhood education, the administration says.

Specifically, the administration is tasking the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit with building a model for teacher training that includes partnerships with community colleges, higher education institutions, workforce development organizations and other community stakeholders. The apprenticeship program will offer what it calls flexible learning methods by mixing classroom and on-the-job instruction

“Every child deserves a bright future, and that starts with having a well-qualified teacher in every classroom,” Pennsylvania Education Secretary Khalid Mumin said. “As a former teacher myself, I know firsthand how important it is to support any Pennsylvanian who wants to serve their community by becoming a teacher. The Certified Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program will help us rebuild our educator pipeline, so that everyone in Pennsylvania has the freedom to chart their own course and opportunity to succeed.”