PSEA president commends Rep. Kim and other lawmakers for legislation to increase educator pay

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PSEA president commends Rep. Kim and other lawmakers for legislation to increase educator pay

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Chris Lilienthal (717) 255-7134
David Broderic (717) 255-7169

HARRISBURG, PA (March 6, 2023) – PSEA President Rich Askey today commended Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) and other lawmakers for introducing legislation to increase minimum educator salaries to $60,000 a year.

Kim and other members of the state House of Representatives held a press conference today to unveil the legislation as part of an effort to address public school staffing shortages that have reached crisis levels.

“Solving the school staffing crisis is going to take a sustained, multiyear commitment,” Askey said. “Setting annual minimum salaries for educators at $60,000 will make the education profession more attractive and help Pennsylvania get the best and the brightest into our classrooms. Just as important, we also need to increase minimum wages for support professionals to $20 per hour to ensure that pay for the important jobs support staff do in public schools are competitive with the private sector.

“Rep. Kim’s legislation is a great step in the right direction.”

At the heart of the school staffing crisis is a decline in the number of college graduates entering education professions. Between the 2012-13 and 2020-21 school years, the number of Instructional I certificates issued to in-state graduates declined by 66%.

Kim’s legislation, which she is developing based on ideas from PSEA, includes a state-funded plan that would set minimum salaries at $60,000 a year for education professionals, including educators, school counselors, and nurses, with salary increases phased in over five years.

Askey emphasized that it is also important to set a $20 per hour minimum wage for education support professionals, such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and paraprofessionals.

Askey noted that a growing number of states, including Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, and New Mexico, have enacted increases in educator salaries. Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia are considering doing the same.

States like Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, and Maine are proposing raising minimum wages for support professionals. Delaware invested enough funding in the state’s current budget to pay bus drivers a $21 per hour minimum wage.

“Increasing pay for Pennsylvania’s educators and support professionals will require investments,” Askey said. “If states like Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas can prioritize investments to address their school staffing shortages, so can we.

“To ensure that our public schools have enough talented, caring professionals to help our students succeed every step of the way, we need to do this.”

In addition to Kim’s legislation, PSEA is working with lawmakers on other initiatives to address the school staffing shortage, some of which are included in legislation unveiled during today’s press conference, such as:

  • paying students in college teacher preparation programs while they complete their 12 weeks of required student teaching;
  • creating a scholarship program for college students who pursue teaching degrees;
  • investing in “grow your own” programs that help paraprofessionals and other school support staff go back to college to earn their teaching credentials; and
  • hiring more school nurses, counselors, and other mental health providers as many students struggle with anxiety, depression, and bullying.

An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 177,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.