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Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators

The Professional Standards and Practices Commission

A hallmark of all self-regulating professions, including the teaching profession, is the articulation of the values, professional knowledge and skills attendant to the profession. Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators (Code), created by the Professional Standards and Practices Commission (PSPC) and its stakeholders reflects the codification of the shared beliefs of the teaching profession in Pennsylvania. The Code is designed to identify the ethical responsibilities of teachers as well as to serve as a guide for decision-making for teachers. Intrinsic to the ethical standards set forth in the Code are the values of trust and fair mindedness; honoring human dignity, emotional well-being and cognitive development; respect for spiritual and cultural values and integrity in professional commitments and responsibilities.

The PSPC is an independent agency created by the General Assembly in the Professional Educator Discipline Act (Act). The mission of the PSPC is to provide leadership for improving the quality of education in this Commonwealth by establishing high standards for preparation, certification, practice and ethical conduct in the teaching profession. The PSPC, which is comprised of 13 members broadly representing the education community in Pennsylvania, realizes its mission through its three designated roles: (1) advisor to the State Board of Education on issues related to teacher certification and preparation; (2) overseer of the Code; and (3) adjudicator of discipline against teachers within the Commonwealth. The PSPC's authority under the Act extends to all educators, including administrators, who hold Pennsylvania certification. In addition, charter school staff members, who serve in a position in a charter school for which certification would be required in a traditional public school, also fall under the PSPC's jurisdiction. In addition, the PSPC's jurisdiction is not affected by the status of an educator's certificate (i.e., lapsed or inactive) or by the status or location of current employment (i.e., retired, private school, out-of-state employment, etc.).

In this section, we will examine Pennsylvania's Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators and the disciplinary procedures set forth in the Professional Educator Discipline Act.

The Code of Professional Practice and Conduct for Educators and Expectations of the Profession

After reviewing the Code and the Professional Educator Discipline Act, consider the following questions:

  1. Does the teaching profession need a code of conduct? Why? 
  2. Identify what duties to the students, to the profession and to the public are delineated in the Code? 
  3. Which of the areas of the Code might be the most challenging for a new teacher? Why?