Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act to address teacher and principal shortages, especially in rural communities. This legislation will help ensure that there are enough teachers and principals with the right skills and tools to prepare students for the future.
“Teacher and principal shortages at schools across the country, particularly in rural areas in the State of Maine, impede our students’ ability to reach their full potential,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill would increase access to high-quality teacher and leader training programs and extend federal support for recruiting well-prepared educators for areas affected by teacher shortages.”
“As schools across our nation continue to face growing class sizes, many are struggling with a shortage of qualified teachers. Rural communities in particular are experiencing a dearth of teachers equipped to meet their growing needs. By creating high-quality teacher residency programs like Grow Your Own and increasing support for these programs at Minority Serving Institutions, this bill will help provide schools and districts with the teachers to prepare students for future success,” Senator Kaine said.
The PREP Act would support school districts experiencing teacher shortages, particularly in rural communities and in areas like special education, English language, science, technology, engineering, math, and career and technical education (CTE). It would encourage school districts to partner with local community colleges and universities to ensure they are educating future teachers in areas where there are shortages. It would increase access to teacher and school leader residency programs and preparation training. States would identify areas of teacher or school leader shortages by subject across public schools and use that data to target their efforts.
Teacher shortages are a nationwide problem. In 2016, a Learning Policy Institute study found that teacher education enrollment dropped 35 percent between 2009 and 2014. Lack of support for advanced training plays a role. Teacher shortages are even greater in special education and subject areas like science, mathematics, world languages, and CTE—fields that are vital for U.S. economic success. Research shows that better prepared teachers stay longer in the profession and are more effective in improving student achievement.
The PREP Act is supported by the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Knowledge Alliance, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Writing Project, Committee for Children, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and Advance CTE.
Click HERE for the full-text of the bill.