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Legislation reintroduced to increase funding for teacher recruitment and training

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(The Center Square) — Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine joined Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in reintroducing legislation that would increase funding opportunities for teacher and school administrator recruitment and training, as well as minority-serving colleges and universities.

The Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals Act, or PREP Act, was initially introduced in the Senate a couple of years ago as the PREP Act of 2021. Though touted as bipartisan, Collins is the only Republican cosponsor alongside seven Democrats.

Kaine urged legislators to “adapt [programs] to the needs of the 21st century,” citing statistics of teacher shortages during Covid-19 and data from the U.S. Department of Education indicating that rural or diverse “high-need” schools often hire less qualified teachers. He attributed this, in part, to teacher shortages.

The legislation aims to reauthorize or add to three grant programs: the Teacher Quality Partnership, the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence and the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement programs.

PREP will broaden the Teacher Quality grants to aid in more than one kind of workforce shortage – teacher shortages and underrepresentation of minority groups in K-12 education.

The program will also supply teacher and school leadership recruitment, training and professional development funding.

Through the other grants, the legislation could provide funding for improvements to science and engineering programs and the creation of teacher preparation programs at minority-serving colleges and universities. Grants could also be used to support school leadership preparation programs.

The bill would also “[align] activities within teacher preparation programs at predominantly Black institutions, Native American-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions with certain changes made to the Teacher Quality Partnership program.”

“Our nation’s educators are critical to ensuring students’ success, which is why I’m committed to finding solutions to address teacher and principal shortages in Virginia and across the country,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to expand teacher training programs and help boost diversity among the teacher workforce.”

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