Dean Strunk advocates for student teacher stipend in the "Philadelphia Inquirer"

May 29, 2024
Penn GSE Dean Katharine Strunk poses outside against a glass façade

In an era where the need for skilled educators has never been more critical, Katharine O. Strunk, dean of the Penn GSE, joins her fellow deans from prominent Pennsylvania institutions in highlighting the state's teacher shortage crisis in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed. Together with Aroutis Foster (Drexel University), Kimberly A. Lawless (Pennsylvania State University), Monika W. Shealey (Temple University), and Eboni Zamani-Gallaher (University of Pittsburgh), Strunk emphasizes the urgent necessity for comprehensive support to aspiring teachers in Pennsylvania.

The op-ed delves into a bipartisan initiative led by State Sen. Vincent Hughes and backed by Gov. Josh Shapiro, designed to mitigate this critical issue. The PA Student Teacher Support Program offers stipends up to $10,000 for student teachers during their crucial 12-week in-classroom training. Additionally, an extra $5,000 is available for those training in high-need schools, aiming to attract and retain top talent where it is most needed.

Despite the program's initial popularity — over 4,000 applicants on its first day — its potential is hindered by a modest $10 million budget, sufficient to support only 750 student teachers. The Pennsylvania State Education Association estimates a requirement of approximately $75 million to fully support all eligible student teachers, a necessary investment to ensure the future of the state's education system.

Strunk and her colleagues argue that expanding the PA Student Teacher Support Program is not just a financial necessity but a critical step in maintaining high educational standards and securing positive outcomes for Pennsylvania's students. The deans collectively call on state leaders to fully fund this program, asserting that investing in the education workforce is indispensable for the commonwealth’s future.