American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the Biden-Harris administration announced new initiatives to strengthen the teaching profession and address the teacher and school staff shortage as the nation’s students head back to school:
“Today’s announcement shows that the Biden-Harris administration gets it. The teacher shortage didn’t start yesterday, and it won’t end today, but we can turn the tide with, among other innovative ideas, the apprenticeship programs and ‘grow-your own’ initiatives announced today.
“The 21 recommendations of our Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force report, “Here Today, GoneTomorrow?”—adopted unanimously at our biennial convention in July—provide a comprehensive blueprint to help do this work by outlining ways to solve the educator shortage. In short, we know education professionals want to make a difference in children’s lives; rather than attack them, as some politicians do, we need to support them, as this White House convening demonstrates. They simply need the tools, trust, conditions and compensation to do their jobs and stay in their jobs.
“The shortages can be solved. In places like Houston, Texas, and Nashua, N.H., districts are working with educators and school staff to raise salaries, which has hugely helped address shortages, while states like New Mexico are investing in the future of educators by enacting legislation that raises teachers’ pay, expands paid teacher residencies, creates more community schools addressing conditions children need, and eases paperwork issues and restrictions for veteran educators returning to fill vacancies plaguing the schools. These strategies need to be the rule, not the exception.
“We look forward to partnering with the Council of Chief State School Officers, governors and the National Education Association to do this work together. There is so much more we can do. Today’s conversation with the first lady, Ambassador Susan Rice, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will help us identify the actions we can take immediately to support schools so teachers can help kids recover and thrive.”