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Legislature approves PSEA-backed, bi-partisan bill to ease substitute teacher shortage

Today, the General Assembly approved bipartisan legislation that will help get more substitute teachers into public school classrooms and address the substitute teacher shortage that is stretching educators and support professionals to the breaking point. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign the bill.

For the past week, PSEA has been working with lawmakers and Gov. Wolf’s administration on the details of this plan.  While it won’t solve every problem associated with the substitute teacher shortage, it is a very significant step in the right direction, because it:

  • makes it easier for administrators to call retired educators to sub;
  • allows people with inactive certificates to serve as day-to-day substitutes for an entire school year;
  • gives more flexibility to use students who are in or soon-to-be graduates of teacher preparation programs as substitutes; and
  • creates a new “Classroom Monitor” pilot program to broaden the pool of eligible people who can provide classroom coverage.

There are many people in Pennsylvania who will make good substitute teachers. This bill will help give them the opportunity to become substitutes and broaden the pool of substitutes available to school districts.

Here’s what you need to know about House Bill 412:

  • Retired educators. For the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, school administrators will have the flexibility to call whomever they want in whatever order they need in order to staff classrooms. The bill also reinforces existing law by stating that a person’s annuity cannot be diminished if they are hired because of an emergency shortage of day-to-day substitutes.
  • Educators with inactive certificates. Permits individuals with inactive certifications to substitute for 180 days during the school year — up from 90 days under current law.
  • Day-to-day substitutes. Expands the number of days a substitute can work in a school year by making it clear that a day-to-day sub can fill in for an individual for no more than 20 days. Currently, state regulations limit day-to-day substitute teachers to a maximum of 20 days in a “single assignment,” which has always meant the person’s certification area.
  • Soon-to-be-college graduates. Allows future educators who have completed all of their requirements except a PRAXIS exam and have not yet received their diplomas to become day-to-day substitutes or long-term subs on a temporary basis.
  • Student educators. Lifts limits on the number of days students enrolled in education programs may sub (while preserving limits when the individual is taking part in a student teacher program).
  • “Classroom monitor” pilot program. For the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, allows people with 60 credits or paraprofessionals with at least three years of experience to fill in for teachers as “classroom monitors.” These “classroom monitors” would be allowed to oversee classrooms but would not be allowed to instruct students, grade assignments, or create work. The pilot program will expire on June 30, 2023, and the Department of Education will be required to release a report on how the classroom monitor permit is used and if it helped ease the substitute crisis.


Where we started

House Bill 412 was introduced in early 2021 by Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) to proactively address the substitute teacher shortage. PSEA worked collaboratively with Rep. Gleim on the development of this legislation in 2020 and 2021. As the substitute teacher shortage worsened, we worked with Rep. Gleim and other lawmakers on this plan.


This is a solid plan that will help ease the substitute teacher shortage

This legislation is a solid step forward, because it will allow more Pennsylvanians to become substitutes during the current crisis. Getting more competent and responsible adults into our schools and classrooms will help ease the burden on PSEA members everywhere.

We commend the bipartisan group of senators and representatives who helped to get this done.

Thank you for everything you do.

400 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

This content is intended for PSEA members and their immediate families.

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