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Legislative Update

Addressing Teacher Shortages, Back to School, and Future of the Department of Education

By Ralph Forsht, Manager, Advocacy and Legislative Affairs

Posted on 2023-09-05

Addressing Teacher Shortages, Back to School, and Future of the Department of Education

New Report—Federal Roles for Addressing the Teacher Shortage Dilemma

As students return to their schools for the 2023–2024 academic year, it’s important to note that teacher shortages remain a national and growing challenge for our nation. According to the U.S. Department of Education, all 50 states reported teacher shortages in more than one area for the 2022–2023 school year. Shortages were especially widespread among special education teachers, science teachers, and math teachers. As a result, several schools and districts were forced to increase class sizes, cancel courses, add duties to the responsibilities of currently employed teachers, and hire people who are not fully qualified to fill the positions—none of which benefit students’ learning. 

Last month, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) released a report, The Federal Role in Ending Teacher Shortages, which outlined specific and tangible actions the federal government could take to build a nationwide strategy for teacher recruitment, preparation, support, and retention. The report identifies seven key areas the federal government should focus on to strengthen the education profession and address the root causes of teacher shortages.

  1. Increase educators’ net compensation through tax credits, housing subsidies, and salary incentives.
  2. Strengthen recruitment by making teacher preparation debt-free.
  3. Support improved preparation by expanding high-retention pathways into teaching.
  4. Provide high-quality mentoring for all beginning teachers.
  5. Increase investments that enable educators to expand and share expertise.
  6. Incentivize the redesign of schools to support teaching and learning.
  7. Rethink school accountability.

Biden Administration Welcomes Back Students for New 2023–2024 School Year

Last week, the President and First Lady visited students at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Washington, D.C., to mark the beginning of the new school year. In conjunction with their visit, the White House released a fact sheet highlighting the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to support K–12 education. Read the fact sheet here.

Could the Department of Education Be in Jeopardy of Elimination?

In the first Republican presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle, multiple candidates called for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, American business executive Vivek Ramaswamy of Ohio, Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, and former Vice President Mike Pence all said that if elected, they would shutter the federal agency, which was created by a law passed in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter’s administration. But what would it mean to actually shut down the Department of Education? Check out this article featured in The Hill.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Weekly.

The mission of NSTA is to transform science education to benefit all through professional learning, partnerships, and advocacy.


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