By Mario Fazio | Staff Writer, NOLA.com
As the country continues to grapple with an ongoing teacher shortage exacerbated by the pandemic, $10 million is headed to New Orleans to help expand recruitment efforts and grow the teacher pipeline for schools in the city.
Tulane University School of Professional Advancement, education nonprofit New Schools for New Orleans and several other education partners were recently awarded a $10 million federal grant, part of the U.S. Department of Education’s $60 million investment in teacher preparation programs around the country.
The funds will be used to recruit and certify teachers, with the goal of placing 552 of them in underserved schools by 2025, according to a news release from Tulane, the lead recipient of the grant. Tulane, Xavier University of Louisiana’s Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency, Reach University and The New Teacher Project’s teachNOLA will partner to train and certify the new teachers. The funding will also put 200 high schoolers into classrooms to begin their education journeys, said Alex Jarrell, chief innovation officer of New Schools for New Orleans.
“The NOLA SEED program will bring hundreds of additional effective teachers to NOLA-PS schools and we look forward to working with all of the partner organizations involved to build this critical talent pipeline in our city,” Avis Williams, NOLA Public Schools superintendent, said in a statement.
The educator shortage is not a new problem, nor is it limited to Louisiana. Louisiana Education Superintendent Cade Brumley told the Senate Education Committee on Monday that the state is still short 1,203 educators, down from 2,520 last year. Jarrell said the city is at a “critical moment” in the teacher shortage: “We have enough teachers, but the pool is extremely shallow.”
The funding will expand existing “grow your own” programs — intended to recruit and train teachers from within the community — and address the “core problem” of low enrollment in existing programs. Tulane will receive $2.2 million over the next three years from the grant in part to support a Master of Teaching program that will be offered starting next fall. The funds will be used in part to pay tuition for students who commit to teaching in Orleans Parish for their one-year residency and the two years that follow; pay stipends for teachers who act as mentors; and create a support program for teachers who are newly graduated from Tulane’s preparation programs.
“It’s a lot of dollars in teachers’ pockets,” said Kelly McClure, director of education programs at Tulane.
Jarrell said the funding targets three groups of potential teachers: high school seniors, college students and paraprofessionals, or teacher’s assistants.
“We can’t rely on one program to be our savior for teacher recruitment, it has to be diversified,” Jarrell said. “We’re pulling all these partners together with an emphasis on local, diverse folks.”
Jarrell said the group expects to produce teachers in time for next school year.
“We know that strong teachers are the single most important factor in student success in the classroom, and we look forward to the impact this program will have in New Orleans,” Dana Peterson, CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, said in a statement.