By Nate Esbenshade
In an Oct. 6 article addressing the “looming teacher shortage” in Pennsylvania, Timothy Williams recommends raising the minimum wage for teachers. Although his solution is wrong, the potential shortage of teachers should be a topic of discussion for Pennsylvanians.
First, pay isn’t the cause of scarcity in the teaching labor market. The average teacher’s salary in the commonwealth is $67,500, which when adjusted for the cost of living, ranks second in the nation.
Additionally, Wallethub’s recent report on teachers ranks Pennsylvania third in best states for teachers. A state ranked that highly should be expected to see an influx of teachers rather than a shortage. Assuming the so-called “looming teacher shortage” is an impending problem, what are the practical solutions?
What about increasing school choice and reducing the number of bureaucratic hoops for teacher certification?
School choice increases competition among employers (schools) and empower teachers to find their own best career fit.
Strict certifications do not guarantee quality, nor do they always make sense. They simply guarantee that the people with the right resources become certified. In Pennsylvania that means getting a teaching certification through one of the many education programs offered through Pennsylvania’s (expensive) colleges and universities, or alternative certification programs.
On the other hand, there are individuals with PhDs—who’ve taught at the university level—yet aren’t “qualified to teach public K-12 in Pa.”
Nathan Esbenshade is a Public Policy Intern for the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think-tank based in Harrisburg.