Wilson Calls for Funding to Address Critical Educator Shortages
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, chair of the Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, along with Reps. Bowman, Hayes, Garcia, Bustos, and Gallego, led a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, and Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth calling for investments in the Build Back Better Act to ensure that all students have access to well-prepared and effective teachers and school leaders.
School districts across the United States have reported historic teacher shortages that have forced some schools to close classrooms. Los Angeles United, California’s largest school district, has more than 500 teacher vacancies, a fivefold increase from previous years, while in Florida teacher vacancies statewide have surpassed 5,000, a 67 percent increase from August 2020. Similar challenges have been reported in at least 41 states across the nation. Shortages of educators of color, well-trained special education teachers, and well-trained educators in the highest-need schools and in high-need subject areas, are longstanding problems. However, the pandemic has exacerbated these crises. A recent National Education Association survey found that 32 percent of respondents plan to leave the profession earlier than they anticipated.
The letter calls on House leaders to fund, to the greatest extent possible, President Biden’s educator workforce agenda as outlined in the American Families Plan. On September 4, Congresswoman Wilson wrote to Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Scott in support of providing a $9 billion educator preparation investment in the Build Back Better Act, including through the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant, Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence, IDEA Part D’s personnel preparation program, a doubling of the TEACH Grant award amount and the inclusion of early educators, and investments to help educators obtain additional credentials and pursue leadership opportunities.
“We are grateful for the inclusion of $1.1 billion in funding for key educator workforce programs in the Education and Labor Committee Print advanced in markup,” reads the letter. “We urge you to retain and build on these investments in the final Build Back Better Act to fully address the pressing challenges that school districts across the country are facing, including a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in our educator workforce and a shortage of well-trained special education teachers and well-trained educators in our nation’s highest-need schools and high-need subject areas. By funding the president’s educator workforce agenda, we can help ensure that all students experience the substantial and proven benefits associated with a diverse, well-prepared, and stable educator workforce.”
To read the full letter, click here. The letter was signed by Reps. Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Alma S. Adams (NC-12), André Carson (IN-07), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Al Lawson (FL-05), Andy Levin (MI-09), and Kathy Manning (NC-06).
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is a sixth-term lawmaker from Florida, representing parts of Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward counties. A former state legislator and school principal, she is the founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentoring and dropout prevention program for boys and young men of color. Congresswoman Wilson also is the founder and chair of the Florida Ports Caucus, a bipartisan taskforce that coordinates federal action to support Florida’s harbors and waterways. The Florida lawmaker sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; chairs the Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee and serves on the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee.