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Student teacher stipends are a win-win, but more $$ is needed

“There are a lot of challenges to student teaching, but that unique classroom experience is so important and so necessary for aspiring educators.

"Paying student teachers a modest stipend is a win-win. It is a win for the young people who want to pursue careers in the classroom. And it is a win for Pennsylvania because it removes a significant financial barrier to becoming a teacher at a time when so many school districts are struggling with teacher shortages.”

“We all need this money,” she said. “We need it for gas, we need it for food, we need it for tuition. So we’re all hopeful that we’re one of the [roughly] 700 that get it, but realistically, not all of us are going to.”

Amber Bloom, Student PSEA Vice President

Key Issue: School Funding

In February 2023, the Commonwealth Court ruled after a lengthy trial that Pennsylvania’s public school funding system is unconstitutional. In January 2024, a report adopted by a majority of the Basic Education Funding Commission made it clear that elected officials must provide billions in new state dollars over the next seven years to ensure our school funding system passes constitutional muster.

PA’s students have waited decades for policymakers to take bold action to address school funding equity. Fixing PA’s broken public school funding system must be a top priority in Harrisburg.

Salary Center - Interactive Maps

Find data and interactive maps with information about starting and average salaries for EA members (teachers, counselors, school nurses, social workers, and psychologists) and starting and average wages for ESP members (paraprofessionals, secretaries and clerical staff, health support staff, food service, maintenance personnel, bus drivers, custodial staff, and IT staff).

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Keep up-to-date on all of the ways PSEA is prepared to meet your professional learning needs.

Stay Connected

Keeping Connected is an e-newsletter for PSEA members to stay informed. In each issue, you'll receive the latest legislative and policy updates from your association, helpful links, and inspiring stories of educators going above and beyond to make the best of an extraordinarily difficult time.

PSEA is a community of education professionals who make a difference in the lives of students every day. Hear their stories and more in each issue of The VOICE. 

PSEA Salary Center

One of the best ways to address Pennsylvania’s crisis-level school staff shortage is to increase salaries and wages for staff so that caring, qualified adults know that they can make a family-sustaining living in public education.  

Check out PSEA's new salary center for details about starting and average salaries for educators and minimum and maximum wages for support professionals.

Interest in PA’s student teacher stipend program shatters all expectations

Aaron Chapin, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the response to the Student Teacher Support Program “shatters all expectations.

In the first three hours after applications became available for the PA Student Teacher Support Program, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency reported over 3,500 students had submitted an application in hopes of receiving a stipend for the 12-16-week student teaching semester, which is unpaid.

Currently, only $10 million is available to fund the stipends. PHEAA officials estimate that will be enough to fund 600 to 700 student teachers – about 10% of the 7,000 students that the state Department of Education estimates will be doing their student teaching next year.
“Unfortunately, this astonishing demand means that most students who applied for stipends won’t get them,” he said in a statement. “This is the best possible evidence that lawmakers and Gov. Shapiro need to increase funding for the program in the 2024-25 state budget.”

“The Student Teacher Support Program is needed now more than ever,” said Amber Bloom, vice president of Student PSEA.

“We began talking about this idea among our Student PSEA leaders after we heard from so many members struggling with the costs of commuting to and working in student teaching placements."

“There are a lot of challenges to student teaching, but that unique classroom experience is so important and so necessary for aspiring educators. Paying student teachers a modest stipend is a win-win. It is a win for the young people who want to pursue careers in the classroom. And it is a win for Pennsylvania because it removes a significant financial barrier to becoming a teacher at a time when so many school districts are struggling with teacher shortages.”

PSEA's Legislative Priorities

House Bill 1416 – pre-Act 9 COLA for retirees
Approved by the state House on Nov. 14, this bill would provide nearly 40,000 pre-Act 9 school retirees with a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment in their pensions.

House Bill 141 – “Grow Your Own”
Approved May 1, this bill will create a program to help paraprofessionals and other school support staff go back to college to earn their teaching credentials. Read more in the Press Release.

House Bill 688 – scholarship program for aspiring educators
Approved May 2, this bill will establish the Pennsylvania Teach Scholarship Program, which will create an affordable pathway for talented, caring people to become teachers while lowering their student loan debt in the process. Read more in the Press Release.

House Bill 299 – extends Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements to public sector employees
Approved by the House on May 2, this bill will extend OSHA protections to school and other public sector employees, ensuring that state and local government entities receive the same occupational health and safety protections as their counterparts in the private sector so that Pennsylvania’s students and school staff members can teach and learn in healthy environments. Currently, public sector workers in Pennsylvania are not covered by federal guidelines for on-the-job safety. 

House Bill 1331 – stipends for student teachers and mentors
UPDATE: Passed as part of the School Code bills in Dec. 2023. This legislation authorizes $10 million in stipends for aspiring educators while they complete their student teaching. Paying student teachers a stipend will remove a heavy financial burden on the way to becoming a teacher.
It creates a $10,000 stipend for all student teachers and a $15,000 stipend for student teachers in schools with high teacher vacancies. It also includes a $2,500 stipend for teachers who mentor student teachers. Prior to passage, student teachers were unpaid for their twelve weeks of student teaching and often struggled to make ends meet.

PSEA’s legislative priorities are your priorities. Your hard work yields real results in Harrisburg. These are just four more examples of that.

President Chapin testifies on basic education funding

On Thursday, PSEA President Aaron Chapin testified before Pennsylvania’s Basic Education Funding Commission and argued that the state must address the income and racial equity gaps in public school funding that were revealed as unconstitutional in the Commonwealth Court’s February 2023 ruling.

A PSEA analysis found the 100 districts with the lowest incomes spend 30 percent less per weighted student than the districts in the wealthiest 100 districts. And districts serving BIPOC communities at all income levels spend less per weighted student than their white district counterparts.

“Districts cannot hire more teachers, remodel buildings, purchase new school curricula, or offer better technology and classroom supplies without the money to pay for them,” Chapin said.

Some of the solutions President Chapin offered to lawmakers were:

  • Raise the state’s minimum salary for educators from $18,500 to $60,000 a year as well as set a $20 per hour minimum wage for education support professionals.
  • Create a new teacher pipeline scholarship program and an initiative to pay education students while they complete their student teaching requirements.
  • Reestablish state charter school reimbursement of at least $500 million to alleviate the burden on the state’s poorest districts.
  • Invest in school infrastructure to bring all facilities up to a minimum standard that promotes learning.

PSEA President Aaron Chapin and PSEA-Retired members rally at the Capitol over COLA

“We are talking about people in their 80s and 90s, many with health issues. Nobody should be in a position where they have to decide between buying groceries or medicine in any given week.”
-Retired math teacher, Scott Brown
“With every year that goes by w/o a cost-of-living adjustment for [pre-Act 9] retirees, their lives get harder, & their money doesn’t go as far,” said PSEA President, Aaron Chapin.
“It is long past time for policymakers in this building to step forward & restore the promise of a secure retirement…”

Denise Kueny, the 2023 ESP of the Year!

There’s no better time than American Education Week to celebrate our hardworking ESP members. And none more deserving of recognition than Denise Kueny, the 2023 Dolores McCracken PSEA Education Support Professional of the Year.

“Over the past 21 years, I have been fortunate to go to work in a place I love, with people I love. I have met, helped, and been inspired by hundreds of incredible students who have forever impacted my life. I am grateful and humbled by this award. Thank you.”

Kueny works as a special education instructional aide at Tohickon Middle School in the Central Bucks School District. In this role, she assists students in learning skills and lessons, offering plenty of guidance and encouragement along the way.

School colleagues praised Kueny for her dedication, noting that she often spends hours of her own free time reading and preparing to help students during the next day’s lessons.

“Her commitment to our students’ success knows no bounds,” Central Bucks Education Support Professional President Deneen Dry wrote in nominating Kueny. “She goes the extra mile to ensure that each child feels valued and empowered, whether it’s providing assistance during difficult moments, offering words of encouragement, or finding innovative ways to engage and inspire.”

Dry noted that Kueny is a strong supporter of and an asset to her local union, the Central Bucks Education Support Professionals Association.

Welcome to PEARL

The PSEA Center for Professional Learning relaunched the PEARL online learning system in Sept. 2023 with many updates and improvements. We are excited to invite you to dive into a refreshed learning experience on a new and improved PEARL!

Featured updates to PEARL are described on our brand new PEARL Updates Page where you can learn about the latest improvements including:

  • Login using your credentials: PSEA members have instant access to PEARL with just their username and password.
  • Personalized Dashboard: Access all your courses, certificates, badges, and other information in a single space.
  • Updated, Mobile-Friendly Interface: This modernized look and feel enhances your experience on any device.
  • Simplified Navigation: The navigation bar is available from every page and connects you to all you need.
  • Enhanced Support: Easily get help with improved FAQs, clarifying help videos, and a direct connection to tech support using the integrated form.

You’ll see several other enhancements when you dive into learning on PEARL.

We understand that change can be confusing. That’s why we also improved our member support with an updated FAQ Page and a showcase of videos showing you all the steps you need to make the most of PEARL.

Some of the videos to get you started are linked below:

Members in the news

NBC Nightly News: Despite healthy economy, many Americans worry about retirement

PSEA-Retired member Jacqualyn James spent more than 30 years teaching American history and psychology in Stroudsburg Area public schools, and retired in 1998.
She's just one of nearly 43,000 retired educators and support professionals who haven’t seen a COLA in 20 years. These dedicated people spent their careers in PA’s schools and classrooms.
On average, they are 83 years old, and their pensions are less than $20,000.

Central Pennsylvania educator named state’s 2024 Teacher of the Year

🎉 Congratulations to Ashlie Crosson on being named 2024 PA Teacher of the Year! 💪
“At the Pennsylvania Department of Education, we celebrate all of our teachers across the Commonwealth, but the Teacher of the Year is a special designation highlighting the best and brightest practitioners in the field,” said Sec. Mumin. “Ashlie Crosson is a leader and a role model in her school district, championing practices and resources that will lead her students to infinite possibilities of success, and today we congratulate her on her dedication to her classroom and community.”

Nearly 70K Pa. school, government retirees have had no COLA increase in 21 years

"Scott Brown is among the 69,000 retired state government and school employees who have not seen an increase in their pension income in 21 years."
"Some of them now in their 80s and 90s live on pensions of less than $20,000 a year. With prices of food, medicine and housing having risen in the double-digits since then, they are pleading with state lawmakers for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)."
“I taught several generations of students,” said 84-year-old Brown, who taught in Montgomery County’s Colonial School District for 39 years."
“Now I’m left holding the bag because those efforts are not recognized as deserving a COLA increase.”

Jermaine Bailey and 'Grow Your Own' program

'Grow Your Own' Program May Solve Teacher Shortage

Jermaine Bailey, the first graduate of the Grow Your Own program in York, has worked as a paraprofessional in the York City School District, earning his degree and teaching certificate. He said his experience was wonderful and even more special because his oldest daughter, ShaWanna, also joined him in the program to become a certified teacher.

Bailey acknowledged cost is a barrier for some people who want to teach, but he added with the help of York School District superintendent Andrea Berry, he and his daughter were able to keep their paraprofessional positions, receive their salaries, and continue to do student teaching within their school building while attending the program.

Read the full Public News Service story

A passion for teaching runs in the family for this father-daughter pair

York City schools has found a unique way to address the educator shortage — through the “Grow Your Own” teacher preparation program that offers support to help locals earn their degrees and teaching certificates.

Jermaine Bailey, the program’s first graduate, previously worked as a paraprofessional in the district. The 48-year-old and his 27-year-old daughter, ShaWanna, both attended the district’s schools before going to York College to earn their degrees.

Read the full York Dispatch story

Member and Central York SD English Teacher Patricia Jackson published in Star Wars Anthology

Central York School District English teacher Patricia Jackson is one of 40 writers featured in a book commemorating the 40th anniversary of “Return of the Jedi,” which debuted May 25, 1983.
Her task was simple: watch “Return of the Jedi,” choose a no-name character with no backstory, and tell that character’s story from their point of view.
The anthology is called “From A Certain Point of View” and hit shelves Aug. 29.
For her story, Jackson chose the Scout Trooper who knocked Luke Skywalker off his speeder bike during the Endor chase scene. The rest came easily to her.

From ‘crisis’ to ‘catastrophe,’ schools scramble once again to find teachers

In our Locals

Teacher seeks to climb the highest trees in PA

California Area School District adds therapy dogs to growing animal support program

Culinary students sharpen their ice sculpting skills

Find moments that spark joy

Garrettford Youth Court is now in session

ESP saves the life of a choking student

Altoona phys ed duo brings positivity to TikTok

Commitment to teaching Holocaust truth

Student art project makes a powerful impact

Seneca Valley’s No Cost to Shop store

Issues & Action