Not on my watch....
Education is in trouble. Not a news flash, just the honest truth. We are bleeding teachers at unprecedented rates and we do not have enough students in the pipeline to replace those that are leaving. That says nothing about the lack of diversity in our teacher ranks as nearly 75% of K-12 teachers are white and 70% of K-12 teachers are female. So we have a teacher retention and teacher recruitment problem and we need to diversity the teacher workforce. Where do we even start? When you look at the numbers, it's easy to think we are asking for the impossible. The good news is that there are people out there that are working on solutions. This week, I attended a briefing on Capitol Hill about The American Teacher Act, introduced by Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. The briefing consisted of a panel of some educational heavy-hitters, including Arne Duncan who was the Secretary of Education under President Obama.
This bill is the result of many years of work of collaboration between the Teacher Salary Project and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL) with her staff. Among other things, this bill would establish grants that would assist states in increasing the minimum salary for K-12 teachers to $60,000. It took me over 20 years of teaching to reach a salary of $60,000. Will it pass the House? I am not sure of that with Republicans in charge. But it's a start in two ways; it elevates the teaching profession with a livable wage and it brings national attention to the issue.
This bill isn't the first to be introduced to help teachers and it won't be the last. I am currently gathering information that will focus my solutions into a bill. I'm currently looking at three different options: increase mandatory new teacher mentoring, establish more grow your own or teacher apprenticeship programs, and the portability of teaching licenses across state lines. All these issues are vital to better recruit and retain qualified, passionate passionate teachers for our children. I'll keep you posted as my legislation comes together. It's just so exciting to be part of finding solutions at the national level.
If we fail the teachers, we fail our students, and that is not happening on my watch!