Teaching Profession

Secretary Cardona Emphasizes Importance of Teacher Retention, Diversity

By Eesha Pendharkar — July 20, 2023 3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on June 30, 2023.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona envisions a more diverse, better paid, and more respected teaching profession in 10 years, and knows how crucial teacher retention is to the future of the profession, as teacher shortages continue nationwide.

“I want to see the profession as beautifully diverse as our country,” he said July 19 to a room of about 80 Black teachers and teachers-in-training in Washington, D.C. “Our students need that. Folks that look like them in front of the classrooms.”

The audience was part of the Teacher Quality and Retention Program, or TQRP, offered by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit that represents Black colleges and institutions.

TQRP is a five-year fellowship, supporting new and aspiring teachers which provides preservice training, personalized support once teachers enter into the classroom, and an annual 10-day professional development summer institute.

Cardona’s speech on the final day of the institute filled the TQRP fellows with hope for the future of teaching, three teachers who work in Title I schools across the country told Education Week.

“It was just good to know that there was somebody in the position who is relatable and who has experienced what we’re going through currently in the classroom,” said Paris Patterson, a teacher in the East St. Louis schools in Illinois.

Cardona told the teachers about being a first-generation college student, how he got into teaching, and how he became a principal at 28. He also talked about the greatest challenges to the teaching profession that the U.S. Department of Education plans to tackle, such as teacher shortages, inadequate pay, and lack of professional development.

“This teacher shortage is a symptom of the teacher-respect issue we have in this country,” Cardona said. “Let’s trust their decisions in the field. Let’s ask for their input as we reimagine schools after the pandemic.”

Regular professional development can help retain teachers

Offering teachers regular professional development is one way to ensure they stay in the profession, Cardona said.

The whole purpose of the TQRP program is “to encourage these stars to stay in the classroom and to be good role models for others, and then to hopefully inspire the next generation of teachers,” said Harry Williams, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s CEO.

The program offers the training they need, the three teachers told EdWeek.

“I think they’re providing what we missed in college, during our formal education,” said India Barnett, a teacher from the District of Columbia’s school system.

“Professional development in districts, they try to give us information about resources that half the time we don’t even really use as educators,” Barnett said. “And it takes time away from things like this, where we actually [learn] the tools to teach students how to read, teach students how to do mathematical equations, how to understand science.”

Increasing salaries can help recruit more teachers

Offering higher salaries to teachers is another effective retention strategy, Cardona said.

He said that teachers make 27 percent less than other college graduates with similar degrees. His department has been pushing governors to raise the entry-level and mid-tier teacher salaries to ensure teachers stay in the profession, he said.

He also highlighted apprenticeship programs, which will allow teachers to earn a wage while completing their training in classrooms. President Joe Biden has highlighted the model as a way to combat teacher shortages.

Nineteen states now have teacher apprenticeship programs, Cardona said. He wants to expand that to all 50 states.

Williams said it’s encouraging to hear Cardona prioritize apprenticeships for aspiring teachers.

“If there’s a program designed so that teachers can get paid, just like in corporate America, to do internships, I think that would be a great tool that could potentially attract more people into education,” Williams said.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers’ Careers Go Through Phases. They Need Support in Each
Teachers experience a dip in job satisfaction a few years into their careers.
5 min read
Vector illustration of a female teacher at her desk with her head in her hands. There are papers, stacked notebooks, and a pen on the desk and a very light photo of a blurred school hallway with bustling students walking by in the background.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Canva
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion How Two Teachers Helped Me Weave a Dream
A journalist and debut book author dedicates her novel to two of her high school English teachers.
Anne Shaw Heinrich
3 min read
Image of nurturing the craft of writing.
Francis Sheehan for Education Week with N. Kurbatova / iStock / Getty