U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján Joins Colleagues Urging Senate Leadership To Invest In Well-prepared, Educator Workforce

U.S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined 13 of his colleagues in a letter to Senate Leadership urging them to invest in a well-prepared, diverse, supported, and stable educator workforce in upcoming physical and human infrastructure legislation.

The letter is aligned with the educator pipeline investments outlined in President Biden’s American Families Plan.

“The United States has invested far less than other countries in the educator workforce, providing little support for training, mentoring, and professional learning. As a result, even before the pandemic, teacher shortages were widespread, with more than 100,000 classrooms staffed by substitutes or teachers without training, and high teacher attrition rates, especially in schools serving children in poverty. Moreover, nearly every state reported shortages of teachers in high-need subjects like special education, math, science, and English language instruction,” wrote the Senators. 

“Decades of data have made clear that students of color and students from families experiencing low incomes lack equitable access to a well-prepared, diverse, supported, and stable educator workforce. We urge you to seize this moment and invest in the most important in-school factor to student learning – educators – by including a $9 billion investment in a well-prepared, diverse, supported, and stable educator workforce in an infrastructure package,” the Senators concluded.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that nationally, an overwhelming majority of states report teacher shortages in mathematics, science, and special education for the 2020-21 school year. Some persisting factors that contribute to teacher shortages include a lack of qualified applicants and not enough support for advanced training. In 2020, there were 571 teacher openings across New Mexico.   

In addition to Senators Luján and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the letter was signed by Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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