Non-U.S. citizens would be able to teach in Pennsylvania classrooms in a measure passed by the state House of Representatives on Monday.
The bill passed 110-93. It now goes on to the state Senate, which is considering its own version of the measure.
The legislation would allow teachers with a valid immigrant visa, work visa or employment authorization documentation to be eligible for certification to teach in Pennsylvania schools.
Currently, the state prohibits non-U.S. citizens from teaching unless they are applying to teach a foreign language or have a green card and have documented their intent to become a citizen. Additionally, young immigrants, who are living in the country undocumented and are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and can legally work, are not eligible for teacher certification in the state.
Sponsors for the bill say it will help offset the decline in teachers — with fewer new teachers certifying and higher teacher attrition in the state. It also would help chip away at the gap between the percentage of students of color and teachers of color, sponsors said.
‘Let’s as a collective tackle this growing problem and let’s continue to eliminate some of these barriers that don’t apply to most careers in the Commonwealth, let alone in the United States,’ said the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, a Democrat from Berks County. ‘We have so many people that are qualified.’