Representatives Houlahan, Gallego, Cisneros, and Hayes Launch Effort to Increase Recruitment of Diverse Teachers
Washington, September 11, 2019
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), joined by Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), and Jahana Hayes (D-CT), introduced the Teacher Diversity and Retention Act to help combat our nationwide teacher shortage by increasing recruitment of diverse teachers and improving teacher training and retention programs.
“I taught Chemistry for Teach for America to a diverse group of high school students in Philadelphia,” said Rep. Houlahan. “It was an incredible experience, but I was dismayed to see so little diversity amongst my teaching colleagues. It’s critical for students to be able to look up to their teachers and see themselves and their likeness reflected. Having more teachers of color betters our schools, our students, and our communities. That’s why I’m helping lead the charge with this critical and prescient legislation. We need our school leaders to reflect the richly diverse country we are all lucky to call home.”
“The majority of American students now come from minority communities, yet only 18 percent of teachers come from those same communities. Recruiting more diverse teachers is a critical part of addressing the teacher shortage crisis that plagues Arizona and America,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “We need teachers that not only reflect the communities they serve, but that have all the tools they need for success in the classroom and beyond. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Teacher Diversity and Retention Act.”
“Our nation’s education system is better served when the diversity of our teachers reflects the diversity of our communities,” said Rep. Gil Cisneros. “Several studies have shown that students of color perform better overall when they are exposed to teachers of similar cultures and backgrounds. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to help schools in the 39th District recruit and retain teachers that will help our diverse student populations excel.”
“As a teacher, I know how important it is that our students see themselves reflected in their educational experience,” said Rep. Jahana Hayes. “While more than half of America’s school children are from minority groups, less than 20 percent of teachers are from the same. This bill would provide significant grants to correct that imbalance and diversify our nation’s teacher workforce. I thank Congressman Gallego, Congressman Cisneros, and Congresswoman Houlahan for their efforts on this important piece of legislation.”
The nationwide teacher shortage was estimated to be over 110,000 in the 2017-2018 school year, with low-performing and low-income schools disproportionately suffering from a lack of qualified teachers. This shortage is worsened by schools’ inability to recruit and retain diverse teachers and ensure that teachers receive the necessary training to thrive in their chosen field.
The Teacher Diversity and Retention Act would authorize two grant programs to strengthen the recruitment pipeline and teacher training programs. The first would enable Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, to apply for funds to establish or revamp programs to recruit and retain diverse teachers. The second would help expand teacher training programs that enable dual certification or include socio-emotional learning, special education, and behavioral management training.
The Teacher Diversity and Retention Act is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She’s in her first term representing Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee.