Kaine and Collins Introduce Bill to Address Teacher and Principal Shortages
U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act, bipartisan legislation to address teacher and principal shortages, particularly in rural communities, and increase teacher diversity. This legislation would help ensure that there are enough teachers and principals with the right skills and tools to prepare students for the future.
“Our nation’s educators are critical to ensuring students’ success, which is why I’m committed to finding solutions to address teacher and principal shortages in Virginia and across the country,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to expand teacher training programs and help boost diversity among the teacher workforce.”
“Teacher and principal shortages at schools across the country, particularly in rural areas in the State of Maine, impede our students’ ability to reach their full potential,” said Collins. “This bipartisan bill would increase access to high-quality teacher and leader training programs and extend federal support for recruiting well-prepared educators for areas affected by teacher shortages.”
Teacher shortages and lack of diversity among educators are nationwide problems. Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that an overwhelming majority of states report teacher shortages in mathematics, science, and special education—fields that are vital for our economic success. The latest Virginia Department of Education report on teacher shortages shows that there were more than 3,500 unfilled teaching positions across Virginia in the 2022-2023 school year, and the Virginia teacher workforce remains largely white despite increased diversity in the student population. For a breakdown by counties of the number of unfilled teaching positions in Virginia for the 2022-2023 school year, click here. For a list of the ten schools in Virginia with the most vacancies for the 2022-2023 school year, click here. Some persisting factors that contribute to teacher shortages include a lack of qualified applicants and not enough support for advanced training. Research shows that better-prepared teachers stay longer in the profession and are more effective in improving student achievement.
Specifically, the PREP Act would:
- Expand the definition of “high need” districts under the Every Student Succeeds Act to include schools experiencing teacher shortages in rural communities as well as in areas like special education; English language; science, technology, engineering, math; and career and technical education (CTE) in order to give schools access to additional support. Having the “high need” label can provide additional federal resources.
- Encourage school districts to create partnerships, including Grow Your Own programs, with local community colleges and universities to ensure their programs are educating future teachers in areas where there is a shortage of educators.
- Set aside a separate fund of existing federal dollars for states to address state teacher and school leader shortages, improve educator preparation programs, and increase teacher and school leader diversity.
- Require states to identify areas of teacher or school leader shortages by subject across public schools and use that data to target their efforts.
- Increase support for educator preparation programs at minority-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities to support a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce. The majority of students in our nation’s public schools are students of color, and the teaching workforce is only comprised of 20 percent teachers of color. Recruiting and retaining a racially diverse mix of teachers and school leaders have a strong positive effect on closing the achievement gap for students of color.
The PREP Act is supported by AASA, the School Superintendents Association; the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); Advance CTE; the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE); CAST; the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL); Committee for Children; the Council for Exceptional Children; the Center for Learner Equity; the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE); the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA); the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE); the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); Knowledge Alliance; the NAACP; the National Association for Music Education (NAfME); the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP); the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS); the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); the National Education Association (NEA); the National Indian Education Association (NIEA); the National School Boards Association (NSBA); the National Writing Project; Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK); the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC); the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO); the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TED); the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD); and Third Way.