Wednesday, May 10, 2023
WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are cosponsoring the EDUCATORS for America Act, major legislation that would help raise student achievement and rebuild the educator pipeline by supporting the development and retention of effective educators.
The bill would strengthen the educator workforce, address the shortage of teachers, and support comprehensive educator preparation, according to Merkley’s news release, which continues in full below:
“Teachers and educators have the ability to inspire, encourage, and spark creativity in students across the state, and play a vital role in the success of students throughout their entire lives,” said Merkley. “As the product of Oregon public schools and the first in my family to graduate from college, I know the difference a good teacher can make. We need to do much more to support teachers and students, and this bill is a great first step.”
“The outsized importance of teachers and educators is evidenced by the fact that so many memories of school begin with a wonderful adult in the classroom influencing the lives of children and motivating them to pursue their dreams,” Wyden said. “This bill helps to ensure that schoolkids in Oregon and nationwide will continue being able to count on having those teachers and educators in their lives. Passing this bill is important homework for Congress, and I’m all in to get it done.”
The EDUCATORS for America Act 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 expand programs for principals 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.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 270,000 teachers were projected to leave the field each year between 2016 and 2026. The pandemic 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.