A strong educator workforce is the goal for nearly $25 million in new awards from the Department of Education, announced on Monday.

Twenty-two new five-year grants, amounting to a total of $24.8 million, will be given out through the Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program. The purpose of the TQP program is to help “recruit, prepare, develop, and retain a strong, effective and diverse teacher workforce” in schools across the country.

“At the U.S. Department of Education, we recognize the value of supporting our nation’s educators, and we have a responsibility to providing resources and opportunities that promote a diverse educator workforce,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in Monday’s announcement. “These programs help prepare, place, develop, and retain effective teachers and leaders in our schools and classrooms. Our students need quality educators now more than ever to address their academic and mental health needs.”

Recently, the Department of Education has had a series of meetings with President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and various educators on the topic of school staffing shortages, and teacher pipeline programs. Cardona and the First Lady are together on the Department of Education’s Road to Success Bus Tour, a multi-state road trip to visit schools helping students to recover and thrive in the post-pandemic educational landscape.

The awardees, 22 universities from 13 states, each responded to an invitational priority with a plan for attracting and supporting new educators. They were each given between $500,000 and $2.4 million according to their estimated needs for the program.

The shortage of a strong educator workforce in the United States is dire. There is no national database dedicated to the issue, but Illinois, a state which ranks right in the middle of the country for education and employment both, found that 88 percent of school districts struggled with staffing shortages among teachers in the 2021-2022 school year. While it is widely agreed that states should run point on educational funding, it’s clear that federal intercession is needed, and badly overdue.

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