Governor announces budget actions to address state’s teacher shortage

FAIRFAX – Governor McAuliffe today announced a series of budget actions and signed a new executive directive to address Virginia’s growing teacher shortage. Budget actions include both new investments and budget language targeting teacher recruitment and retention, and the directive asks the Virginia Board of Education to issue emergency regulations giving colleges and universities the option to offer undergraduate majors in education.

“The teacher shortage is a growing crisis that we have to stop and reverse if we are serious about the Commonwealth’s economic future,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “High quality teachers are the key to unlocking the potential in our children, our Commonwealth, and the new Virginia economy and these steps will help us recruit and retain them across the state.”

“Teachers are the single most important factor in the quality of a child’s education,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “Virginia is facing a growing shortage of qualified teachers, and the trend must be reversed in order to secure the Commonwealth’s future economic growth and prosperity.”

Governor McAuliffe announced Executive Directive 14, which directs the Board of Education to issue emergency regulations to provide Virginia’s colleges and universities the option to offer an undergraduate major in teaching. Currently, programs may offer graduate degrees in education, but state regulations do not permit for undergraduate majors in teaching.

Additionally, Governor McAuliffe announced the following budget actions:

  1. New funding ($1.1 million over biennium) to automate the teacher licensure process, which is currently paper based and burdensome for both teachers and Virginia Department of Education staff;
  2. New funding ($1 million over biennium) to support the recruitment and retention of principals in Virginia’s most challenged school divisions. Principal leadership is critical to the success of our challenged schools, and has a direct impact on the ability to attract and retain our best and brightest teachers;
  3. An increase in the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program ($225,000 in FY2020) to encourage students attending Virginia’s private colleges and universities to enter into the teaching profession. Seniors pursuing degrees in education will receive an additional $500 increase in their TAG award amount; and,
  4. New funding ($100,000 over biennium) the help cover the cost of tests and test-preparation programs for provisionally licensed minority students who pass those exams at disproportionately lower rates than their peers. This is one of the contributing factors to Virginia’s shortage of teachers of color, which is has huge implications for the success of the Commonwealth’s students.
  5. Revised budget language to improve the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program to better incentivize teachers to fill vacancies in the places where they are needed the most. Students will be eligible for up to $20,000 if they teach for two years in a top five critical shortage area, in a division with 50% free and reduced lunch student population.

The Governor’s full budget, including additional K-12 actions, will be announced on Monday, December 18, 2017.