Our teachers prepare and inspire the next generation of leaders who are critical to our future. Today, on World Teachers’ Day, First Lady Jill Biden will appear on The Kelly Clarkson Show for an hour-long special dedicated to teachers, and participate in Pinterest’s day-long livestream to celebrate teachers, featuring top educator creators from across the country. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to celebrating and elevating the teaching profession, and to addressing the challenges facing teachers by taking comprehensive actions to recruit, respect, and retain educators.
To Recruit, Respect, and Retain teachers and other school staff we must:
- Pay educators competitively: President Biden has long called for increases in teacher pay. On average, teachers make about 33 percent less than other college-educated professionals. We cannot address staffing shortages impacting schools without addressing paying teachers a livable and competitive wage.
- Improve working conditions: Whether it’s sufficient planning time and staffing levels, opportunities for leadership and collaboration with peers, or clean air to breathe and cool classrooms during heat waves, educators need working conditions that are conducive to teaching and to students’ learning.
- Expand high-quality pathways into teaching: In 2016, 340,000 fewer students enrolled in educator preparation programs than in 2008, a 28 percent decline over less than a decade. Providing high-quality pathways into teaching, such as Grow Your Own and residency programs, and removing barriers, such as affordability, can help more people answer the call to become teachers and improve teacher retention and effectiveness.
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken concrete actions to advance these goals.
American Rescue Plan
President’s Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $122 billion to the nation’s K-12 schools. The President, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh have urged states and districts to use these funds to increase compensation for teachers, invest in teacher pipeline programs, and hire more professionals across the education workforce. These investments not only provide greater supports to students, but also reduce the burden on current teachers. With the help of the ARP, there are 261,000 more jobs in local education than when President Biden took office. As of July, ARP funding has helped school districts increase the number of school social workers by 54 percent, increase counselors by 22 percent, and increase nurses by 22 percent, compared to the pre-pandemic period. For example:
- Iowa is using ARP funds to train 500 new paraeducators and 500 new teachers. Starting this year, the program will help current high school students and adults earn a paraeducator certificate and associate degree, and paraeducators to earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching license – all while learning and working in the classroom.
- Gaston County Schools in North Carolina used ARP funds to double their nursing staff and secure a nurse for each of their 54 school locations, so that nurses no longer have to split their time between two buildings.
ARP funds are also being used to improve the physical working conditions of teachers and learning conditions for students by addressing critical health and safety issues. It’s estimated that schools are investing $10 billion of their ARP funds in HVAC systems alone, and another $5 billion in other repairs to address health and safety issues.
Additional Federal Investments in Teacher Recruitment and Preparation
Through Department of Education grants, the Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized supporting teachers in a wide array of Fiscal Year 2022 grants, particularly investing in high-quality teacher preparation programs that include robust experience in the classroom before becoming a teacher. These programs recruit more diverse teachers, better prepare them for the classroom, and increase the likelihood of teachers staying in the profession. The President has called for an additional $590 million investment in teachers in his FY23 budget.
New investments under the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program to help ensure long-term support for teacher pipeline and development programs across the country. The 22 new three-year grants totaling more than $60 million include:
- The National Center for Teacher Residencies will increase the number of effective teacher residents from diverse backgrounds in underserved schools, districts, and subjects by boosting teacher residency programs across Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
- The New Orleans SEED program will address persistent teacher shortages by boosting pathways into the profession through the expansion of Grow-Your-Own pathways. By 2025, the project hopes to recruit, prepare, and place 550 teachers in underserved schools and have more than 200 high school students in its teacher pipeline.
New Teacher Quality Partnership awards to help recruit, prepare, develop, and retain a strong and diverse teacher workforce. The 22 five-year grants totaling $24.7 million include:
- In Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, North Carolina, funds will support a residency program that will recruit, prepare and retain 120 special education, elementary and secondary teachers in high-need schools.
- Funds will support a Grow Your Own program in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that will support alumni of Gwinnett County Public Schools in returning to the community as teachers after they graduate from college.
For the first time, this year the Department of Education will also award grants under the Augustus F. Hawkins program to support teacher preparation programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.
The Department of Labor has also committed to prioritizing the education sector in future apprenticeship funding, including its next round of over $100 million in apprenticeship grants. This will provide critical support for states and other partners looking to start and expand teacher apprenticeship programs, which allow individuals to earn while they learn, receiving pay while they gain teaching skills and take coursework to earn their teaching license.
Ensuring Education Jobs Are Good Jobs
Schools cannot recruit or retain the teachers they need unless jobs in education are good jobs. Adjusted for inflation, the average weekly wages of public school teachers only increased by $29 between 1996 and 2021. Beyond calling for better pay and encouraging the use of ARP funds for this purpose, the Administration has taken concrete action to address teacher compensation.
Sustained Funding to Increase Teacher Pay: To increase teacher pay, schools need more funding. President Biden’s budgets have proposed an additional $20 billion for Title I—which supports schools serving students from low-income backgrounds—more than doubling funding for this program. These resources would help schools increase teacher pay and close gaps in access to educational opportunity. As roughly 92 percent of funding for public schools comes from the state and local level, state and local leaders must also take decisive action to provide schools with the resources they need to pay teachers competitively and to close funding gaps undermining schools serving low-income communities.
Reducing Student Debt for Teachers: Too many teachers are burdened with so much student debt that they feel like they cannot stay in the classroom. Debt also keeps many prospective teachers from entering the profession. The Administration has taken decisive action to provide more breathing room to America’s working families, including teachers, as they continue to recover from the strains associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Earlier this year, the Biden-Harris Administration made temporary changes to the PSLF program that make it easier than ever for public servants, like teachers and school staff, to receive loan forgiveness or get credit toward loan forgiveness. To date, the Department of Education has approved more than $13 billion in forgiveness for more than 211,000 public servants under this waiver. To benefit from the temporary changes, borrowers must apply and certify their employment for the period of time they wish to count toward PSLF by October 31, 2022 using this Help Tool. For more information, visit www.PSLF.gov. Teachers who previously received Teacher Loan Forgiveness can now also count those years used toward the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program toward PSLF but they must certify those years by October 31. The Administration has also proposed regulatory changes to ensure more effective implementation of PSLF moving forward.
- TEACH Grant: The Department is implementing improvements to the TEACH Grant program, which provides up to $16,000 in grants to teachers who commit to teaching in a high need school and field for 4 years.
- Cancelling and Reforming Student Debt: In addition to the one-time student debt relief of up to $20,000 announced by President Biden in August, the Biden-Harris Administration has proposed a plan to reduce the burden of student debt through reforms to income-driven repayment plans. Under the proposed plan, borrowers will have more income protected and monthly payments on undergraduate loans will be cut in half – from 10 percent to 5 percent of their discretionary income.
Source: White House