Pennsylvania to spend $1.5 million to try to help recruit special ed teachers

19 April 2024- The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today announced that $1.5 million in grant funding is available to help schools create learning opportunities that will bolster the Commonwealth’s next generation of special educators.

“The Shapiro Administration is laser focused on growing and expanding the Commonwealth’s educator workforce, and we know that one of the areas of greatest need is in the field of special education,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “This grant funding will complement the efforts we have already undertaken to create a pipeline of high-quality educators who can serve students from all walks of life and those with disabilities or different needs.”

The 2024-2026 Developing Future Special Educators grants are available to local education agencies (LEA), including school districts, approved private schools, career technical education centers, charter schools, cyber charter schools, intermediate units, and institutions of higher education (IHE). Grantees are required to design and implement up to three experiential learning opportunities for secondary/postsecondary students and educate them on career pathways and future job opportunities that exist in the field of special education.

Through the experiential learning opportunities, students will learn about supporting students with disabilities through participation in structured activities, programs, and events with guidance and oversight from current educators. Ultimately, the goal is to recruit future special education professionals by engaging them in authentic, experiential learning opportunities in support of students with disabilities.

The maximum grant award is $20,000 and the funds are available through June 30, 2026. LEAs and IHEs should apply through the Attract-Prepare-Retain (APR) Repository by June 10, 2024. A webinar will be held on Monday, April 29, 2024, from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, and the session will be recorded and made available on the APR Repository.

Pennsylvania is facing a major shortage of educators across the Commonwealth. A decade ago, roughly 20,000 teacher certifications were issued each year, while in 2021 only about 6,000 were issued. The Shapiro Administration is taking action to address the education workforce shortage and make it a little bit easier for Pennsylvanians to become a teacher, because creating real opportunity for our children starts with having enough well-qualified, well-paid teachers in our classrooms.