EDUCATORS for America Act Aims to Strengthen Educator Workforce & Address School Staffing Shortages Through Programs to Recruit, Train, Support & Retain Effective Teachers
Reed’s bill to address teacher shortages would provide a big boost for RI students, educators, & schools
WASHINGTON, DC -- In an effort to raise student achievement in the classroom, and rebuild the educator pipeline, a bicameral group of lawmakers this week introduced the EDUCATORS for America Act (S. 3360), aimed at supporting the development and retention of effective educators. Led by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D-NC), the bill would strengthen the educator workforce, prevent a shortage of teachers, and support comprehensive educator preparation. It would annually authorize $500 million for grants to states that develop strategies to meet their educator workforce needs and another $500 million to enhance educator preparation programs. The bill would also expand the Teacher Quality Partnership Program to boost programs for administrators and address the need for specialized personnel, such as early childhood educators and counselors; reauthorize the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program for teacher preparation efforts at historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions; and double federal TEACH grants to $8,000 per year.
Lead cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in the U.S. Senate, and U.S. Representatives Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Cindy Axne (D-IA) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 270,000 teachers are expected to leave the field each year between 2016 and 2026. The pandemic has only accelerated this trend. At the same time, enrollment in educator preparation programs is plummeting. School districts across the nation are struggling to fill positions. In a recent national survey, four out of ten secondary school principals responded that they are likely to leave the profession in the next three years. Moreover, the gap between the demographic makeup of the student body and the education profession is widening. Even though over 50 percent of students are people of color and that multiple studies have shown that racial diversity can provide significant benefits to students, a 2016 Department of Education report showed that 82 percent of public-school teachers identified as white, a figure that had barely changed since 2000. Urgent action is needed.
The EDUCATORS for America Act calls for a $1 billion annual investment to support states and local communities in building a new educator pipeline that will ensure that all schools have the diverse, profession-ready teachers, principals, librarians, counselors, and other specialized instructional support personnel they need to support student development and academic achievement.
“Our nation’s outlook for the future is tied to the strength of the education profession and today the profession is in crisis,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Labor, Health and Human Service, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and a long time champion for educator preparation and professional development. “The EDUCATORS for America Act provides a comprehensive plan for uplifting the profession based on input from stakeholders across the education field about what is needed to recruit, prepare, and support educators.”
“As an educator for forty years, I always hoped some of the bright young minds I taught would go on to become educators themselves. Unfortunately, aspiring educators are often discouraged by high student debt, low salaries, and the lack of institutional support,” said Congresswoman Adams. “Educators are struggling, particularly as they continue to grapple with the pandemic. Schools are facing pervasive staffing shortages, and we can no longer afford to neglect the educator pipeline. It’s time for a comprehensive national investment in our educators.”
Under the proposed legislation, the $1 billion annual investment in the educator pipeline would be evenly divided between state capacity building and direct support for educator preparation programs and partnerships with high need school districts. It addresses the full pipeline from early outreach and career exploration to financial assistance and wrap around supports for those pursuing education careers to clinical preparation for teachers, principals and other educators to faculty development, all with a focus on ensuring equity and diversity.
SUMMARY: EDUCATORS for America Act (S. 3360)
$500 million annually for grants to support states in developing and implementing a statewide strategy for meeting their educator workforce needs, including ensuring an inclusive and equitable workforce that supports the recruitment, preparation, and retention of populations that are underrepresented in the field of education, including teachers of color, first generation college students, and teachers with disabilities
$500 million annually to support educator preparation programs and partnerships including:
- Updating and expanding the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program to focus on residency programs, strengthen the principal and school leader preparation programs, and enable partnerships to address the need for early childhood educators, school librarians, counselors, and other specialized support personnel
- Reauthorizing the Honorable Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-serving institutions in expanding and strengthening their educator preparation programs.
- Providing recruitment and completion grants to educator preparation programs to ensure that students have the wrap around supports they need to graduate.
- Establishing an education careers opportunity program to expose middle and high school students to the education profession.
- Increasing the capacity of educator preparation programs to meet the needs of the field, including supporting school leader development, faculty professional development and training, offering doctoral fellowships, and promoting innovation and resiliency.
- Streamlining the data and reporting requirements for teacher preparation programs to focus on key measures related to program quality and addressing identified workforce needs. Calls for the National Center for Education Statistics to convene an expert panel to make recommendations on a robust and concise set national indicators on the size, diversity, and quality of the teacher workforce, and the equitable distribution of profession ready teachers
Removing financial barriers to entering the education profession by:
- Doubling the TEACH grants to $8,000 per year and providing additional protections and options to prevent the conversion of grants to loans.
- Including the costs of clinical experiences in the cost of attendance for awarding financial aid
- Providing educators and teachers in high need fields credit towards loan repayment as they serve rather than waiting 5 to 10 years to earn forgiveness.
Leading organizations endorsing the bill include: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; American Association of State Colleges and Universities; American Association of School Personnel Administrators; American Federation of School Administrators; American Federation of Teachers; American Occupational Therapy Association; American Psychological Association; American Society for Engineering Education; Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD); ASCD; ACTFL; Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL); Committee for Children; Council of Administrators of Special Education; Council for Exceptional Children; EDGE Consulting Partners; Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE); Learning Forward; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of School Psychologists; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE); National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; National Center for Learning Disabilities; National Center for Teacher Residencies; National Council of Teachers of English; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; National Education Association; National Indian Impacted Schools Association; National Institute for Excellence in Teaching; PDK International; Public Advocates; Public Advocacy for Kids; School Social Work Association of America; State Higher Education Executive Officers Association; STEM Education Coalition; Teach Plus; Teacher Education Council Of State Colleges And Universities; Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children; The Arc of the United States; The California State University; Thurgood Marshall College Fund; UNCF (United Negro College Fund); University of Northern Iowa; and Vernier Software & Technology.
What leading education professionals are saying about the EDUCATORS for America Act:
“AACTE enthusiastically supports the Educators for America Act and thanks Senator Reed and Representative Adams for their unwavering leadership in support of educator preparation. This comprehensive bill will make robust investments in teacher and other educator preparation programs while alleviating our nation’s educator shortage, diversifying the profession, and providing critical support to our member institutions and their community partners.” said Dr. Lynn M. Gangone, President and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
University of Northern Iowa President Mark A. Nook stated, “EDUCATORS for America represents a monumental step forward in the effort to grow, retain, and diversify our nation's educator workforce. With our roots in educator preparation, UNI appreciates the opportunity to help advance national policy to invest in our nation's educators and through them the quality of education our children receive.”
“We applaud Senator Reed and Congresswoman Adams for their leadership in ensuring that all students have access to well-prepared and diverse teachers. The pandemic has only exacerbated the current educator shortage crisis which has had a profound impact on student learning and schools --in short, it holds our kids back, especially students with disabilities,” says Lindsay E. Jones, President & CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
“On behalf of world language educators across this country, I want to thank Senator Reed and Representative Adams for introducing the EDUCATORS for America Act,” said Howie Berman, Executive Director of ACTFL, which represents more than 12,000 language educators in the U.S. and abroad. “World language is currently experiencing a critical shortage of qualified teachers in at least 44 states and the District of Columbia, and this legislation is an important step to ensuring that this country has a well-trained, diverse educator workforce for years to come.”
“The Teacher Education Council of State Colleges and Universities (TECSCU) strongly supports the Educators for America Act. This legislation will address the teacher pipeline with financial incentives and protections as well as maintains funding for innovative practices in educator preparation,” said Dr. Laurie Mullen, Co-President, TECSCU and Dr. Marcie Wycoff-Horn, Co-President, TECSCU.
“62 percent of teacher residents identify as people of color. Teacher residencies have long been focused on providing a clinically rich preparation experience for candidates of color specifically. Including the expenses associated with the clinical experience in the cost of attendance for awarding financial aid would significantly broaden access to teacher residency programs, thereby increasing the number of teachers of color in this country,” said National Center for Teacher Residencies CEO and Founder, Anissa Listak.
“I applaud Senator Reed and Representative Adams for crafting a bill that will shore up the educator profession by attracting, preparing, and retaining educators, and specifically for supporting new educators of color and educators with disabilities. This legislation offers a thoughtful and comprehensive solution to the current educator shortage crisis, including in high-needs areas such as special education,” said Dennis Cavitt, Ed.D, President, Council for Exceptional Children.
“PDK International is proud to support the Educators for America Act and the establishment of the Pipeline to Educator Preparation Program. Providing support and opportunities for students of color to enter the teaching profession is crucial to diversifying the educator workforce; the Educators for America Act helps make that happen,” said Dr. Joshua P. Starr, CEO of PDK International.
“Without a robust and well-prepared educator workforce, including school psychologists, schools cannot truly meet the academic, social-emotional, and mental and behavioral needs of our students. NASP is proud to endorse the Educators for America Act, which would help states address issues in their educator workforce pipeline and ensure no students go without the education professionals that can help them thrive in school, at home, and in life,” said President of National Association of School Psychologists, Laurie Klose.
“The Educators for America Act is critical to addressing shortages in special education teachers and specialized instructional support personnel. The bill will help attract more students to and increase diversity in the special education workforce,” said Phyllis Wolfram, Executive Director, Council of Administrators of Special Education.
“The Educators for America Act would address the teacher shortages that are so harmful to our education system and ensure that teachers receive the necessary training to provide high-quality and equitable instruction that meets the academic, social and emotional needs of all students,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “The need to strengthen, diversify and grow a qualified educator workforce, including by incorporating principles of psychological science into the pre-service training and professional development of teachers, was great even before the pandemic.”
“Bolstering the teaching ranks has always been an essential priority, but it is now more important than ever in the face of a teacher shortage that is reaching crisis proportions. ASCD is pleased to support the EDUCATORS for America Act and the critical national investment in the educator pipeline that will help enhance the quality, quantity, and diversity of our school workforce,” said Ranjit Sidhu, ASCD CEO and Executive Director.
“The teaching workforce is experiencing challenges and headed for a transformation— hopefully one that works to address the profession’s diversity issues, equity deficiencies, and shortages—particularly in a subject like mathematics, as well as insufficient professional support for educators. The Educators for America Act will make important changes to improve the federal policies that support teachers, and NCTM looks forward to working with its sponsors to secure its enactment,” said Trena Wilkerson, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics President.
“A high-quality, diverse teacher workforce remains foundational to achieving state educational attainment goals. The Educators for America Act is a comprehensive policy solution with reforms and investments to address the national teacher shortage, and SHEEO urges lawmakers to support this important legislation,” said Robert E. Anderson, President, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.
“It is evident that educators who receive training in how to apply social and emotional learning strategies and frameworks to their own development and that of their students are better prepared to meet the needs of all students. With that in mind, Committee for Children wholeheartedly supports the Educators for America Act, which seeks to strengthen and expand educator preparation programs that embed training on social and emotional learning and trauma informed approaches to teacher, school leader, and principal candidates,” said Andrea Lovanhill, CEO, Committee for Children.
“School educators and principals are critical to ensuring all our nation's children have the high-quality opportunities necessary to thrive and succeed,” said National Association of Secondary School Principals CEO Ronn Nozoe. “Congress must pass the Educators for America Act to strengthen the school leader pipeline so state and local school communities can continue to support student development and academic achievement.”
“The Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TED) is thrilled by the introduction of the Educators for America Act. TED believes in this piece of proposed legislation as a means of building capacity to address the critical shortage of special educators across the nation and lack of diversity in the field-ultimately better and more appropriately serving our students with some of the most significant needs,” said Dr. Ruby Owiny, TED President.
“If ever there was a critical federal role in supporting educator's and public education, it is the EDUCATORS for America Act in partnering with local and state school districts in attacking the the nation's teacher shortage and building a market and pipeline of talent--especially focused on those low income communities such as rural, tribal, territories and inner cities who find it most difficult to attract a diverse, well paid, and inclusive teaching force and profession. Sen. Reed and Rep. Adams understand that the core to an equitable public education is to assure a qualified and profession ready teacher for every child in every zip code in the country,” said Arnold F. Fege, President, Public Advocacy for Kids
“In order to ensure that we have a teaching workforce that represents the brilliance and diversity of our nation's students, we must make high quality teacher preparation affordable for all. Teach Plus applauds the Educators for America Act because it provides financial support for prospective and current teachers and helps give students access to the excellent educators they deserve,” said Lindsay Sobel, Teach Plus, Interim CEO.
“Great teaching matters. This legislation will help ensure that we educate and prepare more outstanding educators in the critical science, technology, engineering, and math subjects that our students need to compete in the global economy today and tomorrow,” said James Brown, Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition.
“Students across the country deserve profession-ready educators who represent diverse backgrounds. As we continue to address nation-wide shortages, including in special education and specialized instructional support personnel, we must ensure that includes educators with disabilities,” said Robyn Linscott, Policy Manager at The Arc
“The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) enthusiastically supports the EDUCATORS for America Act and its goals to strengthen teacher preparation programs, like those offered at regional comprehensive institutions, as well as grow and diversify the nation’s teaching corps. AASCU, and its close to 400 members who prepare the majority of teachers for our nation’s schools, understands the value and importance of well-prepared educators in shaping the lives of our children and in the development of our communities,” said American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) President and CEO, Mildred García, Ed.D.
“The Higher Education Consortium of Special Education (HECSE) is proud to endorse the Educators for America Act as a lever for addressing the critical shortage of educators and lack of diversity across the field. HECSE is especially excited by the bill's authorization of $500 million annually to support educator preparation programs and partnerships including: updating and expanding the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants Program; reauthorizing the Honorable Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program; providing recruitment and completion grants to educator preparation programs; establishing an education careers opportunity program to expose middle and high school students to the education profession ultimately increasing the capacity of educator preparation programs to meet the needs of the field.”
“The research shows that when educators tend to their own social and emotional learning (SEL), they are more effective in teaching SEL, report less stress and increased job satisfaction, which also translates into better outcomes for students. The Educators for America Act is vital, particularly now, to provide learning opportunities for adults to develop their own social and emotional competence and foster SEL in all children,” said Karen Niemi, President and CEO, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
“Education is facing the largest crisis in a generation with regards to staffing schools with not only qualified teachers, but all school personnel. It is more important than ever to support initiatives and strategies that will help build the pipeline for the future; AASPA thanks Senator Reed and Representative Adams for their leadership on this,” said Kelly Coash-Johnson, Executive Director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators
“Educators across the country are burnt out, overwhelmed, and under-resourced, resulting in a massive teacher shortage that leaves students without permanent teachers in their classrooms and parents, caregivers and other school staff struggling to fill in the gaps. In order to adequately meet the needs of our kids, the educator workforce needs massive investment, from expanding teacher training and pipelines, recruiting diverse educators, and improving pay and benefits like loan forgiveness that help make teaching a more sustainable profession. The Educators for America bill takes a comprehensive approach to teacher prep and helps ensure educators and school staff get the time, tools, training and resources they need to support students,” said Randi Weingarten, AFT President.
“The Educators for America Act makes critical investments in the preparation of teachers and school leaders, which will help to create opportunities for all students to have access to great classroom teaching and learning,” said Laura Encalade, Co-President, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.
“The School Social Work Association of America supports critical funding for educators, including specialized instructional support personnel like school social workers, in the Educators for America Act. Our school communities play a significant role in the healthy development of children and youth, and as we remain in the unresolved public health crisis of COVID-19, it’s vital to effectively address the increased social, emotional, and physical needs of both students and educators,” said Christy McCoy, SSWAA President.