Biden unveils new efforts aimed at fixing teacher shortages, increasing pay

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Biden unveils new efforts aimed at fixing teacher shortages, increasing pay

Elements of President Joe Biden’s proposal Wednesday include new funding for apprenticeship programs to train the next generation of educators and improving access to loan forgiveness programs so that teachers aren’t further burdened with school debts. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

President Joe Biden’s administration announced multiple efforts on Wednesday that are intended to address a national shortage of school teachers, including a move to increase pay.

There have been teacher shortages across the United States in recent months, due to a variety of factors. Perhaps the main reason is money.

As part of Biden’s proposal, the administration is encouraging state governors and district leaders to use emergency funds in the American Rescue Plan and $350 billion in state and local fiscal recovery funds to increase teachers’ pay.

“Low pay continues to be a significant contributor to a weak teacher pipeline and to a history of high turnover rates,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

“On average, teachers make about 33% less than other college-educated professionals. Adjusted for inflation, the average weekly wages of public school teachers has only increased $29 between 1996 and 2021.”

Other elements of Biden’s proposal include funding for apprenticeship programs to train the next generation of educators and improving access to loan forgiveness programs so that teachers aren’t further burdened with school debts.

“Too many schools are struggling to fill vacancies for teachers, including with qualified teachers and other critical school professionals,” the White House added.

“The president has been clear from day one that to address these long-standing staffing challenges facing our schools, exacerbated by the [COVID-19] pandemic, teachers, paraprofessionals and other school staff need to be paid competitively and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

Later Wednesday, first lady Jill Biden will lead an executive roundtable at the White House to address issues related to the staff shortages.

A longtime teacher herself, the first lady will be joined at the event by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and executives from job recruiting websites ZipRecruiter, Handshake and Indeed. Leaders from the National Governors Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education will also attend.

The departments of education and labor issued a joint letter on Wednesday encouraging state and local education bodies and workforce leaders to hire teachers and invest in the profession.

The letter asks states and local school boards to create a registered apprenticeship program, increase collaboration across the workforce and education systems that ensure teacher quality and paying teachers more.

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