U.S. Departments of Education and Labor push for better pay, high-quality pathways into education professions

The U.S. Department of Education, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor announced new efforts to expand high-quality and affordable pathways into teaching, as well as to increase pay and strengthen working conditions across the early childhood, K-12 and higher education workforce.

ED joined the Biden-Harris Administration’s Good Jobs Initiative, a call to action across the federal government to help shore up access to and retention of good jobs as the foundation of a thriving economy that lifts all people in our nation. As part of this initiative, ED is issuing a set of Good Jobs Principles for Education describing high-quality working conditions that comprise a good job and will help attract and retain a high-quality education workforce in all roles and at all levels, from early childhood through higher education.

Additionally, since President Biden took office, the number of states with teacher registered apprenticeship programs has grown from zero to 34 states and Puerto Rico. Building on this progress, \ED and DOL are announcing availability of new funding and resources to support the expansion of high-quality and affordable pathways into careers in education, addressing a key factor driving educator shortages.

These announcements will be made as part of a joint trip between U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada this week.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“Recruiting and retaining high-quality educators and education staff to provide and support core instruction from pre-K through college is central to student success — and to creating strong pathways to good, family-sustaining jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The new funding the Department is releasing, alongside the Education Good Jobs Principles published today, recognize that when workers have access to competitive wages, benefits, working conditions, and growth opportunities, their voices are respected, their communities thrive, and they can develop the next generation of skilled workers, leaders, and citizens.”

Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su.

 “We depend on educators to open doors for their students. It is equally important that we ensure our nation’s educators enjoy the benefits and security of having a good job,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “Through these Principles and in partnership with the Department of Education, we seek to open doors for a new generation of educators, including expanding access to Registered Apprenticeships and readiness programs, especially for workers in historically underserved communities. While careers in education are often referred to as a calling, we must ensure that those educating our young people are in good, family-sustaining jobs by building clear pathways to higher wages, increased benefits, and better working conditions.”

Today’s announcements include:
Good Jobs Principles

A strong educator workforce is vital to preparing students for college and career pathways and workplaces offering good jobs. The Biden-Harris Administration’s Good Jobs Initiative, led by DOL, promotes economic mobility by helping embed good jobs across our communities. The north star for this effort is the Good Jobs Principles, a shared federal vision of job quality — published by DOL and the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2022 — that has impacted nearly $240 billion in federal investments through Investing in America awards toward infrastructure and technology. These principles describe how workers can be provided with stable, quality jobs that provide equitable treatment to all applicants and employees.

Building on this work, ED is publishing the Good Jobs Principles for Education, developed in coordination with DOL, to align educators’ working conditions with a federal framework that can help guide how jobs in the education field are treated nationwide.

Good Jobs Principles have helped shape high labor standards in other areas of Administration policy, including through requiring, prioritizing, or encouraging high labor standards in grant-making, procurement and other investments.

The Good Jobs Principles for Education encourage all education institutions, systems, and organizations to provide quality jobs that provide a competitive wage, family-sustaining benefits, job security, safe working conditions, and access to career advancement opportunities as the foundation for good quality jobs. ED will seek out best practices from labor management collaboration to innovative collective bargaining agreements to uplift models in education for workforce resiliency. ED will promote the Principles and encourage their adoption across educational settings and, where possible, in Department practice.

ED is the seventh agency to announce its partnership with the Good Jobs Initiative, joining the U.S. Departments of Interior, Commerce, Transportation, and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the General Services Administration.

While in Reno, Secretary Cardona and Acting Secretary Su will speak to educators at Washoe County School District where, as a result of the most recent contract negotiated by the Washoe County School Board with the district’s unions, and additional matching funds provided by the state, teachers will get a 20 percent pay raise over two years, and education support professionals will receive a 20 percent pay raise as well. Retention bonuses will be given to special education teachers and in-demand job categories like bus drivers, custodians, and food service workers for an additional year.

High-quality and affordable pathways into education
ED and DOL are additionally taking actions today to further expand access to high-quality and affordable pathways into education professions, including residency, grow your own, and Registered Apprenticeship programs. Too many young people, paraprofessionals, and potential career changers dream of becoming a teacher but cannot afford to pursue high-quality pathways into the profession due to financial barriers. Yet teachers who go through comprehensive, evidence-based pathways are two to three times more likely to remain in the profession compared to their peers who go through low-quality pathways. Investments to help grow high-quality and evidence-based pathways, and provide future teachers with robust clinical experience and financial support, can help to make sure they enter the classroom better prepared to teach on day one.

While is Las Vegas, Nevada, Secretary Cardona and Acting Secretary Su will visit Laura Dearing Elementary School to highlight paraprofessionals apprentices working towards their teaching certification as part of the University of Las Vegas Paraprofessional Pathways Project, in partnership with Clark County School District.

The Departments’ funding opportunities include:

  • Nearly $50 million from ED to expand high-quality and affordable educator preparation programs. This funding includes $25 million in the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant program, which invests in high-quality, evidence-based educator programs, including teacher residency programs that include a year of on-the-job learning in the classroom. The competition includes priorities for applications that are designed to increase educator diversity and support evidence-based grow-your-own programs, including high school dual enrollment, and Registered Apprenticeship Programs for teachers that are fully aligned with high-quality design principles.
  • $15 million for the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence programto support high-quality teacher preparation programs and address teacher shortages through investments in Educator Preparation Programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions, with a State-accredited teacher preparation program. Programs supported by Hawkins include evidence-based, comprehensive pre-service clinical experiences and increase the diversity of the teacher workforce and teacher pipeline programs.
  • $8 million in the National Professional Development program, which supports pre-service training programs for teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and aspiring educators, including high school students (for example, through dual enrollment and early college programs), who want to become fully certified as bilingual or multilingual educators.
  • Nearly $200 million from DOL to support Registered Apprenticeship, which include  K-12 teachers as a priority occupation. This funding includes $100 million for a second round of State Apprenticeship Expansion Formula Grants to support the Administration’s goals to modernize and strengthen the National Apprenticeship System, while also providing opportunities for those States that have the capacity and can commit to adopting and expanding new opportunities for innovation, equity, expansion, and modernization in Registered Apprenticeship; and $95 million for a second round of Apprenticeship Building America Grants to continue to expand, diversify, and strengthen the Registered Apprenticeship system through support for public and private partnerships designed to serve a range of industries and individuals and promote Registered Apprenticeship Programs as a workforce development solution that translates training into good jobs.

Additionally, ED and DOL will launch new technical assistance offerings to help support high quality Registered Apprenticeship programs for teachers, as well as other efforts to support teacher recruitment, preparation, retention, and development. This is part of the Administration’s effort to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs, including in education, launched by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in 2022 and built upon through additional announcements in 2023.

New technical assistance efforts include:

  • The Educator Registered Apprenticeship) Intermediaryfor the K-12 education sector, funded by DOL, is providing supports for states, school districts, and others working to establish Registered Apprenticeship Programs for teachers.
  • States, districts, educator preparation programs, workforce boards, and labor unions/teacher associations can receive free, individualized coaching from the ERA Intermediary as they explore, develop, and implement apprenticeship programs. Many States receive support in developing statewide accelerators to help districts in a State develop RAPs in accordance with state models, guidance, or funding requirements.
  • State teams can apply to participate in the State Leadership Academy, a workshop series for states early in their design process or interested in designing or scaling additional apprenticeship programs. Those interested can learn more here.

ED plans to support the creation of a new technical assistance center focused on the educator workforce through the FY 2024 competition for the Comprehensive Centers program. The new center will provide assistance focused on educator recruitment, preparation, retention, and development, including implementing evidence-based grow-your-own, and residency programs, and designing evidence-based teacher apprenticeship programs fully aligned to high-quality standards.

Later this month, ED’s Comprehensive Center Network will also release an online learning package focused on Registered Apprenticeship Programs, featuring presentations from federal and state policy and program leaders and related resources to help design and implement high quality programs.