Feds Launch Two New Resources to Help Locals Diversify School Workforce

The U.S. Department of Education is tackling the school staff shortage through increasing educator diversity and helping local school systems diversify.

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has launched two new resources to help America’s school systems hire and retain staff and diversify their workforces. Two recent policy resources, a Raise the Bar policy brief and a Public Service Announcement (PSA), underscore the state of America’s school staff and offer guidance on how districts can work to diversify.

Raising the Bar

On November 6, the Department published a Raise the Bar policy brief, “Eliminating Educator Shortages through Increasing Educator Diversity and Addressing High-Need Shortage Areas,” featuring visualizations underscoring national and state data on teacher diversity and areas where states have particular shortages. The policy brief reads:

Building a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce requires change at every level in our education system, from teacher recruitment, preparation, and hiring, to teacher induction and professional development, to teacher leadership, advancement, and retention. In order to continue increasing the pipeline of educators entering the profession, the Department is working to reduce and eliminate barriers to becoming an educator while upholding the quality of and improving EPPs, including by expanding access to high-quality and affordable pathways into the profession, such as Registered Apprenticeships for K-12 teachers, and reducing the burden of student loan debt.

The policy brief is part of the Department’s Raise the Bar: Lead the World program working in partnership with States, Tribes, local educational agencies (LEAs), and educator preparation programs (EPPs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), to eliminate educator shortages in our nation’s schools and to strengthen and diversify the education profession. Raise the Bar uses five key policy levers to Raise the Bar and eliminate educator shortages, especially in high-need teaching areas. The five policy levers are:

  • Increase compensation and improve working conditions;
  • Expand access to high-quality and affordable educator preparation;
  • Promote career advancement and leadership opportunities for educators;
  • Provide high-quality new teacher induction and job-embedded professional learning throughout educators’ careers; and
  • Increase educator diversity.

A campaign for diversity

On November 9, the Department officially launched a public service campaign to elevate the teaching profession and promote educator diversity.  The “Teachers: Leaders Shaping Lives” campaign is headlined by a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) developed in partnership with TEACH.org and One Million Teachers of Color.

According to the Department, “the goal is to inspire more talented people — especially those from under-represented communities — to become teachers.” The PSA premiered on LinkedIn Live and will appear in media markets nationwide via television, radio, and social media.

Maryland’s path

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”) prioritizes diversifying the state’s public school workforce, especially educators. One of the five pillars of the Blueprint is dedicated to doing so: Pillar 2 – High Quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders. The Blueprint law imagines elevating and diversifying Maryland’s educator workforce by:

  • Making teaching a high-status profession by raising the pay and status of teachers, including a performance‑based career ladder, a minimum statewide salary, and salaries comparable to similarly educated professionals;
  • Substantially increasing the rigor of the teacher preparation curriculum with teachers completing a full year clinical experience organized and managed by teacher education and district partnerships;
  • Redesigning schools to be places where teachers are treated as professionals with a system of incentives and supports – a career ladder – to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students;
  • Creating a leadership development system that prepares school leaders at all levels – State, district and school – to give them the vision, skills, and knowledge they need to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report and manage high‑performing schools; and
  • Improving recruitment and professional development efforts to create and sustain a teaching faculty that better reflects the racial and ethnic makeup of the student body.

In March, Maryland’s school systems were required to submit Blueprint implementation plans to the State. As part of those plans, all 24 systems highlighted the ongoing challenge to hire and retain qualified educators to serve public schools. A prior Raise the Bar policy briefing shows that Maryland is short educators in all subjects reported, except for computer science and “support staff.” Areas of shortage might be good areas to target diversification in the state.

At the MACo Winter Conference general session, “Education Reform: The Blueprint for the Blueprint,” county and state leaders in education will examine Blueprint implementation, challenges that remain, and where Maryland is landing as it tries to reach the landmark law’s goals for public education. Speakers include representatives of key partnerships, county officials working closely “on the ground” to implement the education reform law and other leaders.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: