Teacher appreciation means taking action to address the causes of burnout

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As a high school student in Connecticut, I always looked forward to art lessons with Linda Ransom, who fueled my curiosity and creativity. One day she tapped me on the shoulder and suggested I make a good teacher.

That moment changed the course of my life, inspired me to pursue a career as an educator, and ultimately led me to an opportunity beyond my wildest dreams: to serve as the United States Secretary of Education.

The inspiring stories Americans share during Teacher Appreciation Week remind me that when we say education is the “great equalizer,” it is our educators who make it possible.

Investing in teachers

At the Ministry of Education, we strive to show our appreciation by making investments throughout the year to support and uplift our teachers. At a time when many teachers are feeling undervalued, overworked, and drained from the pressures of the pandemic, this effort starts with listening.

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What we heard is clear: teachers are under tremendous pressure.

Growing staff vacancies require teachers to support larger or larger classes, which limits the time teachers can devote to providing students with individual attention, planning rich instruction, and assuming other responsibilities.

These unsustainable conditions risk driving more teachers out of the field and undermining our efforts to achieve a sustainable and equitable recovery for every student affected by the pandemic.

Our educators need more support

With nearly all of our schools reopened for in-person learning, I now urge state and local education officials to do even more to support their teachers, including increasing educator salaries and improving working conditions. – with additional supports, quality professional development and more opportunities to elevate teachers’ voices in reimagining post-pandemic education.

Schools and districts must also hire more support staff and partner with area colleges and universities to recruit and prepare people from diverse backgrounds to join the teaching profession if we are to provide our students with the best education in the world. world.

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Growing staff vacancies require teachers to support larger or larger classes, which limits the time teachers can devote to providing students with individual attention, planning rich instruction, and assuming other responsibilities.

This is possible thanks in large part to the $130 billion in federal US bailout funds earmarked for K-12 schools.

At the Ministry of Education, we also use existing resources and programs to do our part. By making teacher professional growth a departmental strategic priority, the agency has focused more than $380 million in competitive federal grants on support programs that improve educators’ ability to meet the needs of their students. It is unprecedented.

Our commitment to do this work continues in President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget, which calls for an additional $722 million for programs that support teaching and learning, improve working conditions in public schools , diversify the teaching staff and provide teachers with more opportunities to lead from the classroom.

We reduce the burden of student debt

Finally, we must free our educators from heavy student loan debt.

Teacher Appreciation Week may coincide with Public Service Appreciation Week, but for too long, too many teachers who have made years of federal loan repayments have found themselves locked out of the government’s loan forgiveness program. civil service (PSLF). They deserve better.

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Thanks in large part to feedback we’ve received from teachers, the department has revamped the program so that by October 31, teachers with federal student loans can apply to have any payment count toward the PSLF, regardless of the type of loan, federal loan officer service or repayment plan they have.

Teachers who apply for the PSLF before October 31 can also count past service periods for both PSLF and teacher loan forgiveness rather than having to choose between those programs. I encourage all teachers interested in qualifying for this program to visit StudentAid.gov/PSLF to learn more.

With these changes, in just six months, the Biden-Harris administration has increased the number of borrowers approved for forgiveness from nearly 12,000 to more than 113,000 people eligible for more than $6.8 billion in student debt relief. These numbers will continue to rise, and our recent moves to provide PSLF credit for periods of abstention could grant pardons to an additional 40,000 people.

And we don’t stop there.

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The department’s federal student aid office has improved the TEACH grant program, so fewer teachers are seeing their grants mistakenly converted to loans. These ongoing efforts have provided nearly $50 million in relief to teachers working in areas and areas of need by converting their loans back into grants.

Teacher appreciation is a commitment

Education is the foundation of all opportunity in America. It’s time for state, local and federal government leaders to treat the profession like the deep public service that it is.

Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona

I will always be a teacher, and with me as secretary, the Department of Education will live out our appreciation for teachers with policies that reflect their invaluable contributions to our country.

The time has come to put teacher appreciation into action.

Miguel A. Cardona was sworn in as Secretary of Education on March 2, 2021. He previously served as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education. He began his career as an elementary school teacher and has two decades of experience as an educator in a public school.

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