Feb 7, 2024 | Press Releases

Nunn Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Address Teacher Shortage, Ensure Access to Quality Education for All Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03) and Matthew Cartwright (PA-08) today introduced legislation to address the educator shortage across the country. The bipartisan Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Actwould establish a permanent collection of demographic data on public schools and principals to assist in the recruitment and retention of teachers. 
“Schools across the country, including in Iowa, are having difficulty finding and retaining qualified teachers,” said Rep. Zach Nunn. “We must address the nationwide teacher shortage to ensure every child has access to a quality education, no matter their zip code. The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act is a commonsense approach to strengthen the workforce and provide better opportunities for all students.”   
At the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, more than half of schools nationwide were understaffed. More than one-third of teachers say they are likely to quit within the next two years. Understaffed schools negatively impact a student’s education by leading to high rate of teacher turnover and lower performance. Educators are the number one influence on student achievement, and without enough staff, we hinder students’ ability to succeed. 
“Research shows that a good teacher matters more to student achievement than any other school-related factor,” said Rep. Cartwright. “That is why we must take steps to address our nationwide teacher shortage. The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act would direct the Department of Education to collect and centralize educator data to help policymakers and stakeholders produce data-informed policies to address nationwide teacher shortages, and strengthen the educator workforce, to better serve our nation’s students.” 
Current solutions to address both educator workforce shortages use incomplete data that is not easily accessible.  Without a national dataset, legislators are unable to identify which schools need the most help nor can they evaluate the effectiveness of federal investments in recruitment and retention programs like the Teacher Quality Partnership and the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence.  Access to educator workforce data is necessary to track the impact of federal dollars in schools. 
“Our students, particularly students of color, perform better when taught and cared for by a diverse range of educators and administrators,” said Sen. Durbin.  “As our country faces educator workforce shortages, it is essential that we reach out to, recruit, and retain educators that share the background of their students.  With the bicameral, bipartisan Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act, we can take a step forward in this process by examining the demographics of our current workforce so we can invest in effective recruitment and retention programs.” 
Specifically, the Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act would direct the U.S. Department of Education to collect the following data from public schools:  

  • The number of full-time principals employed and the median years of experience across the full-time principals employed, disaggregated by years of experience; 
  • The number of full-time preschool and K-12 teachers employed, disaggregated by years of experience; and 
  • The number of full-time teachers who hold State certificates, licenses, or endorsements in mathematics, science, English as a second language, and special education—all hard to staff subject areas.  

The Strengthening Educator Workforce Data Act has also earned support from Teach Plus, American Federation of Teachers, National Council on Teacher Quality, The Education Trust, National Association of Elementary School Principals, The New Teacher Project, New Leaders, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Educators for Excellence, National Center for Teacher Residencies, Center for Black Educator Development, Latinos for Education, The Sikh Coalition, EDGE Consulting Partners, Leading Educators, and Opportunity Culture @ Public Impact.  
A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Dick Durbin (IL). Text of the bill can be found here