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Booker, Norcross, Pascrell Announce Major Legislation to Address Teacher Shortage

Provisions include increasing investments in teacher preparation programs, financial assistance to encourage diversity in teaching profession

February 6, 2018
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CLIFTON, NJ – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), New Jersey Education Association President Marie Blistan, and local teachers and students at Clifton Public School 17 in Clifton, New Jersey to announce a major piece of legislation that would help address the teacher shortage the United States is experiencing.

According to a study from the Learning Policy Institute, enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen 35% over the past five years. This amounts to a decrease of almost 240,000 potential teachers in the year 2014, as compared to 2009.

The Supporting the Teaching Profession Through Revitalizing Investments in Valuable Educators (STRIVE) Act, which will be led by Booker in the Senate and U.S. Representative Donald Norcross (NJ-01) in the House, includes several key provisions to help address this shortage, including increased investments in teacher preparation programs and financial assistance to encourage diversity in teaching profession.

“We must do all we can to prepare each and every child for success, and that means supporting and empowering our teachers in the classroom,” said Senator Booker. “Teachers across the country are being asked to do more with less—they’re overworked and under-supported at a time when they are going above and beyond for our students. As the greatest, richest country in the world, we can, and should be doing more to prepare and support the people doing some of the most important jobs in our country – our teachers.”

“Like all Americans, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the teachers that impacted my life and who prepared my children and grandchildren for their futures. Our education system depends on the amazing men and women who teach our children every day. We must ensure teachers receive all the support they need to shape the next generation. The STRIVE Act means peace of mind for educators across the country and will encourage our best and brightest teachers to serve in high-needs areas, so all our kids can benefit from a great education,” said Rep. Norcross, a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“Teachers give everything they’ve got to draw out the very best from their students, and they deserve the highest-quality of support from us in Washington. As a former public school teacher at Paramus High School, I understand the challenges and difficulties that teachers face in meeting the demands of a classroom,” said Rep. Pascrell. “I am proud to join Senator Booker in support of this bill which will provide much-needed relief to educators around the country. I wholly support this initiative and I will continue to fight on behalf of teachers around the country.”

"The STRIVE ACT acknowledges the often overlooked and unmatched dedication and commitment of countless educators,” said New Jersey Education Association President Marie Blistan. “When we support our educators today, we support our children and our collective future.  It's time to reduce the burden of student loans on educators, mandate funding for teacher-focused grants, and increase tax deduction for educators who spend their own money on our children's future. The STRIVE ACT will empower educators to do what they do best: educate.”

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Specifically, the STRIVE Act will:

·      Mandatorily fund and increase funding for programs that prepare and train educators to be their most effective, while allowing early childhood educators to participate in the program.

·      Overhaul the current loan forgiveness program for teachers to provide incremental and complete loan forgiveness to teachers who teach for seven years and grandfathers in those teachers who have taught for longer and are still paying student loans.

·      Encourage diversity in the teaching profession by providing financial assistance for teaching certification and licensing fees to low-income and other underrepresented communities.

·      Increase the teacher tax credit to better reflect how much of their own money teachers invest in educating our students.

Booker has long been an advocate for teachers and ensuring every child receives a quality education. In recognition of 2017 World Teacher’s Day, last October Booker and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a resolution supporting U.S. efforts –  including efforts through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) – to improve access to quality education for the poorest and most marginalized children and youth worldwide.

In 2016, Booker and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) were joined by then-U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. in hosting a roundtable discussion with local students, educators and community leaders on New Jersey’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which takes important steps to ensure that every student in our country has access to a high-quality public education.

Booker was successful in having several provisions included in ESSA that establish meaningful ways to support homeless and foster youth, protect our most vulnerable students, and strengthen and improve the working conditions for teachers.

The STRIVE Act is endorsed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children; Committee for Children; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; First Five Years Foundation; Learning Forward; National Black Child Development Institute; American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association/New Jersey Education Association; Teach Plus; Teach for America; Teaching Matters; Alliance for Excellent Education; The New Teacher Project; National Council for Teachers of English; National Network of State Teachers of the Year; Educators for Excellence; Public Advocacy for Kids; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; AASA, The School Superintendents Association; Association of Educational Service Agencies; Higher Education Consortium for Special Education; Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children; and National Institute for Early Education Research.

What advocates are saying about the STRIVE Act:

“Our nation’s educators deserve as much support as we can give them to prepare them for and keep them working in classrooms across the country. Senator Booker’s bill would provide much-needed preparation, loan forgiveness, and other resources for over-burdened classroom teachers and early childhood educators.” – Marc Egan, Government Relations Director of the National Education Association

“Committee for Children is proud to sponsor the STRIVE Act. Its focus on supporting top quality teachers is a clear recognition of the transformative change strong educators can make in the lives of children, families and for the economic future of our country.” – Joan Duffell, Executive Director of Committee for Children

“Learning Forward applauds Senator Booker for introducing this important legislation. Educators across the country are working hard to prepare students to be successful in college and careers. At the same time, they are meeting higher learning standards and serving a more diverse student population, as they face the threat of less support for professional learning through Title IIA. This bill puts the emphasis back on supporting teachers – helping to improve their practice so that they can, in turn, better meet the needs of America’s children.” – Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director, Learning Forward

"Educators for Excellence teachers are grateful for Senator Booker’s effort to remove financial barriers to creating and sustaining a diverse educator workforce. Research shows that all students benefit from having diverse teachers, especially our students of color, who now make up more than half of the public school student population. Our members have long advocated for similar policies at the state and district level – it is exciting that they may soon find their place in federal law." – Evan Stone, Co-founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Educators for Excellence

“Teaching young children is ‘rocket science’--it’s complex, nuanced, and dynamic. Research has shown teachers play a crucial role in each child’s academic and social/emotional development. The design and management of the classroom and how teachers interact with children make a big difference in child outcomes. High-quality preschool–and positive outcomes for children– depend on knowledgeable, dedicated teachers and effective administrators.” – W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D., Founder and Senior Co-Director, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education

“Our nation's most important teachers, those who care for and teach our youngest and most vulnerable children receive the least preparation and support. Just as we depend on them to build a strong foundation for our children's future success, we must ensure that they have a strong foundation for their success as teachers. Providing a pathway for aspiring teachers of young children to earn the education they need to succeed is critical for building a strong early childhood workforce.” – Ellen Frede, Ph.D., Senior Co-Director, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education

"Teaching Matters fully supports this crucial legislation that addresses the teacher shortages our nation is experiencing in the poorest zip-codes across America." – Lynette Gustaferro, Teaching Matters

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