Norcross, Stanton, Escobar Introduce Bill to Address STEM, English & Special Education Teacher Shortage
WASHINGTON, DC – To address the teacher shortage in America and best prepare the 21st century workforce, U.S. Representatives Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Greg Stanton (AZ-09) and Veronica Escobar (TX-16), members of the House Committee on Education and Labor, introduced H.R. 4422, the Graduate Fellowships to Prepare Faculty In High-Need Areas at Colleges of Education Act. The Act provides fellowships for graduate students who are pursuing doctoral teaching degrees in the fields of STEM, special education and English language.
According to a study from the Learning Policy Institute, enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen 35% over the past five years.
“Our education system depends on our teachers and instructors – and we must ensure that the men and women training our future generation of leaders and workers receive the support and resources they need,” said Congressman Norcross. “As we work to make college more affordable, more inclusive and more effective in preparing students for the jobs of the future, we need to address gaps and shortages head-on. We should be intelligently investing in our educators, institutions and students, while ensuring our children and grandchildren aren’t graduating with astronomical debt and a piece of paper that doesn’t lead to a good-paying job.”
“As we continue working to make college more affordable and accessible to hard-working families in our country, we know that bold investments must be made to support the professional development of those seeking to dedicate their lives to teaching,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “This legislation is an important step in the right direction to increase accessibility for those seeking to teach in high-need subject areas and continue opening the door of opportunity for teachers and students in El Paso and throughout the nation.”
“When we invest in our educators, we’re not only supporting them, but also the generations of students who will prepare for the future in their classrooms,” said Congressman Stanton. “The graduate fellowships created by this bill will make college more affordable for those pursing doctoral teaching degrees in high-demand fields, including STEM education. It addresses a critical gap in the teacher pipeline—one that we badly need to fill in Arizona.”
The fields of STEM, special education and English language were selected as the fields for H.R. 4422’s fellowships because of recent workforce and educational trends.
- A National Science Foundation’s study found that nearly 30% of all engineering and science degree holders are expected to retire in the next 15 years and more STEM teachers are needed to prepare the next generation of workers.
- PBS reported in February that the number of special education teachers nationally has dropped by more than 17% over the past decade, while the number of students with disabilities aged 6 to 21 has declined only about 1% over the same time period.
- Thirty states and territories, including New Jersey, Texas and Arizona, reported a teacher shortage for English as a Second Language to the Department of Education in the 2018-2019 school year.
H.R. 4422 will specifically:
- Create grants for teaching colleges that will fund fellowship awards for graduate students preparing to earn a doctoral degree in teacher instruction.
- The fellowships will only be available for future professors preparing to instruct teachers interested in STEM, special education or English language courses.
- The administration and funding levels for the program will match current fellowships offered by the National Science Foundation.