WASHINGTON, D.C. [08.02.22] – Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—a member of the Senate Education Committee—reintroduced legislation to help schools and districts in Minnesota and across the country facing teacher shortages.
More than 40 percent of the nation’s small, rural school districts struggle to adequately staff their schools, and shortages are most acute in certain subject areas. There is a growing need for STEM, foreign language, and special education teachers. Additionally, there is a severe lack of racial diversity—nationwide teachers of color compromise only 18 percent of the teacher workforce.
“I’m hearing from Minnesota school superintendents about the many vacancies they’re struggling to fill. More than 40 percent of our nation’s small, rural school districts report that it’s difficult to hire the teachers they need,” said Sen. Smith. “And it’s especially difficult to hire teachers in subjects like STEM, career and technical education and special education. Ultimately, these shortages harm our kids and diminish their opportunities. My bill will help schools overcome these challenges and help ensure students get the best education possible.”
Sen. Smith’s bill—the Addressing Teacher Shortages Act—would allow school districts across the country to apply for grants to help them to attract and retain the quality teachers they need. The bill would also fund U.S. Department of Education efforts to help smaller and under-resourced districts apply for grants.
Funding under the grant program could be used to establish or expand:
- teaching residency programs
- teacher mentor programs
- “Grow Your Own” programs to ease teacher staffing shortages and increase workforce diversity by tapping staff already working in school buildings to become teachers
- “2+2” programs to provide flexible pathways for students to obtain a bachelor’s degree
- programs at an institution of higher education that encourage students majoring in STEM fields to take courses in education
- teacher preparation pathways in secondary schools
- other evidence-based strategies to increase teacher retention and support teachers, such as:
- increasing access to technology for professional development in rural areas
- supporting teachers in fulfilling requirements to become certified in an additional subject area, to obtain National Board Certification, or to teach Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or dual or concurrent enrollment programs
- induction programs for new teachers
- tuition assistance, housing allowances, or stipends for student teachers, first-year teachers, and second-year teachers
- professional development for school administrators focusing on teacher leadership or teacher retention
The grant funding would be distributed with at least 25 percent going to rural districts, high-needs subject areas, and to diversify the teaching workforce, respectively, and 5 percent to Bureau of Indian Education schools. The remaining funding could be allocated at the Secretary’s discretion.
This legislation is supported by American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and Education Minnesota.