Secretary Cardona Lays Out Vision to Support and Elevate the Teaching Profession

Secretary Cardona Lays Out Vision to Support and Elevate the Teaching Profession

June 9, 2022

Today, U.S Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will lay out his vision for how the nation can support teachers across the country and elevate the teaching profession. During an address and fireside chat at the Bank Street College of New York, Secretary Cardona will discuss how the Department, states and districts, and higher education institutions can recruit, prepare, and retain great teachers and, in turn, improve our education system across the country. He also will highlight the work the Department has done to support teachers since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration and share his own experience and perspective as a former teacher, principal, and school administrator. In addition to Secretary Cardona’s visit, the Department is releasing a fact sheet on how American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund investments in our nation’s educators can be sustained for the long-term using other existing sources of federal funds.

"A great teacher in every classroom is one of the most important resources we can give our children to recover from this pandemic and thrive," said Secretary Cardona. "Yet, even before the pandemic, many states and communities experienced shortages in qualified teachers, including in critical areas such as special education, bilingual education, career and technical education, and science, technology, engineering, and math education. The pandemic has only served to make these shortages worse—falling hardest on students in underserved communities. It’s not only our responsibility but our commitment at the Department of Education to encourage, invest in, and lift up teachers across America. The future of our country and our children’s futures depend on it."

Secretary Cardona’s vision will focus on three areas:

  • Recruiting diverse, high-qualified teachers into the profession and investing in high-quality teacher pipeline programs
  • Supporting educators’ professional development to ensure our nation’s students are receiving high-quality education to meet the demands of today’s economy
  • Investing in strategies to retain high-quality educators and keep them in the profession long-term.

The fact that in many states teachers do not earn a livable and competitive wage is a significant contributor to a weak pipeline and high attrition. In many states, teachers earn less than other professionals with similar qualifications. On average, teachers make about 20 percent less than other college-educated workers and make even less than that average in 25 states. In 38 states, the average teacher salary is so low that mid-career teachers who are the head of household for a family of four qualify for two or more government benefits based on income. President Biden and Secretary Cardona have called on states and districts to increase teacher salaries to help address teacher recruitment and retention. But in addition to increasing teacher salaries, our nation’s students are depending on federal, state, and local leaders to take bold actions to make sure they have access to diverse and talented educators who join, grow, and stay in the profession.

Secretary Cardona laid out the following strategies that will continue to guide the Department of Education’s work to recruit, develop, and retain high-qualified teachers in the coming months and years:

  • Investing in a strong and diverse teacher pipeline, including increasing access to affordable, comprehensive, evidence-based preparation programs, such as teacher residencies, Grow Your Own programs, including those that begin in high school, and apprenticeship programs
  • Supporting teachers in earning initial or additional certification in high-demand areas such as special education and bilingual education or advanced certifications to better meet the needs of their students
  • Helping teachers pay off their student loans, including through loan forgiveness and service scholarship programs
  • Supporting teachers by providing them and students with the resources they need to succeed, including mentoring for early career teachers, high-quality curricular materials, and providing students with access to school counselors, social workers, nurses, mental health professionals, and other specialists
  • Creating opportunities for teacher advancement and leadership, including participating in distributive leadership models, and serving as instructional coaches and mentors.

To advance these efforts, the Department’s fiscal year 2023 budget request includes nearly $600 million in new funds—over funds included in the FY22 Omnibus—for a total of almost $3 billion—to recruit, support, and retain a talented, diverse workforce. These investments include $350 million to focus the Education Innovation and Research program on a new charge to improve teacher recruitment and retention; $132 million for Teacher Quality Partnerships to improve preparation for teachers (an additional $73 million); $20 million for the Hawkins Centers of Excellence to increase the number of diverse and talented teachers prepared at our Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities (an additional $12 million); and $250 million for IDEA Part D to better prepare and support our special education teachers (an additional $155 million).

Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing effort by the Department and the Biden-Harris Administration to invest in our nation’s teachers. Some of the Biden-Harris Administration’s first actions were to prioritize educators’ access to vaccinations and deliver unprecedented resources to our nation’s schools through the American Rescue Plan to help accelerate the reopening of schools for in-person learning and to support students’ academic recovery and mental health. As part of that effort, the Department has released guidance and fact sheets, hosted webinars for states and school districts, and partnered with the Departments of Treasury and Labor to encourage states and districts to use American Rescue Plan funds to support educator recruitment, retention, and well-being as part of a number of priorities ARP funds should be directed towards.

Secretary Cardona also is calling on states, districts, and institutions of higher education to join in the effort of recruiting, investing in, and retaining diverse and talented educators by supporting the five strategies laid out above and in the fact sheet.

To view Secretary Cardona’s remarks live, click here.