Cardona recommends using COVID-19 funds to tackle teacher shortages

Cardona recommends using COVID-19 funds to tackle teacher shortages

As students across the nation begin a new school year, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stated on Sunday that states and school districts should use federal COVID-19 relief funds to address teacher shortages. Cardona urged institutions to swiftly take action to provide the kind of comprehensive instruction that many feels has been lacking since the start of the pandemic.

Cardona said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that “this is a year full of promise and chances for students who have, for the last two years, put up with too much.” “And because of the American Rescue Plan, we have the funds necessary to open our schools with an adequate number of teachers. Instead of less, our students need more.”

Although a problem prior to COVID-19, schools continue to struggle with a teacher shortage, which has severe ramifications for students who need extra assistance. The Biden administration recently calculated that many students are currently two to four months behind in important disciplines like reading and math as a result of the staggered, intermittent changes to remote and hybrid learning during the last two and a half years.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which became law in 2021, included $122 billion for schools. In July, the White House urged local districts to “leverage American Rescue Plan funds to expand programming and services to help students make up for lost learning time and succeed” during the upcoming school year.

But in areas like California and Missouri, where some districts have shortened school weeks from five days to four days in response to the lack of resources, the ongoing teacher shortage is causing more complicated issues for policymakers.

In order to attract and retain more teachers, about 120 Missouri school districts have switched to four-day school weeks over the past ten years. According to a June report from public radio station KCUR, this number may increase to around 25% of the state’s school districts in the coming year.

“I am concerned when I learn that some districts are cutting their workweek. Our pupils require more assistance, smaller class sizes, tutors, and after-school activities, among other things “Cardona stated. Therefore, utilizing the funds provided by the federal government, let’s use the American Rescue Plan to bring back retired teachers and to collaborate with institutions to ensure that our student teachers are beginning their careers a little bit early.

He emphasized, “We think it’s critical that our students get more this year, not less.

Cardona stated that it is a priority to “engage with” local education officials to expand their spending in education, despite the fact that the federal government cannot compel certain school districts to use money from the American Rescue Plan.

Let’s face it: the teacher shortage is a symptom of a problem with teacher respect that has been for longer than the epidemic, according to Cardona. “We’re going to always struggle with scarcity concerns unless we’re serious about offering competitive compensation for our educators, better working circumstances so they can continue to thrive, and then include teacher voice in this process of reopening or rethinking our schools,” the author said.

He said that in “our areas that are difficult to teach, or where there are less applicants, like bilingual education administration,” this is “particularly” true.

As a nation, “we need to concentrate on this jointly,” Cardona said.

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