In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which includes $122 billion for the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. These funds are provided to state educational agencies and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. 

As principals, you will have a significant role in deciding how these funds will be used.  Priority will obviously be given to personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, and other critical needs that help keep you, your staff, and your students safe. However, this funding can be used in a variety of ways, including addressing the teacher shortage our nation continues to face, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.  
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) is encouraging its members to collaborate with their local partner districts to allocate ARP ESSER funds toward strengthening the educator workforce by supporting residency models, grow-your-own programs, and other innovative approaches to develop a pathway into teaching. Increasing financial support for teacher candidates is critical to developing and sustaining a diverse, profession-ready teacher workforce. Funding to support teacher candidates could be in place by as early as this fall to assist schools as they fully reopen and help children overcome learning loss due to the pandemic. The Department of Education included this approach in its COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs (page 53).

To provide examples of how AACTE member institutions are successfully creating initiatives eligible for ARP ESSER funds, we have highlighted the following models you can replicate with your local Educator Preparation Programs. If you want to learn more about these initiatives, we have also included the contact information for the programs. 

Contact: Dr. Tachelle Banks ([email protected])

We hope you will make the most of this unique opportunity to continue to develop the next generation of diverse, profession-ready educators while helping our students academically and emotionally recover from the impact of COVID-19!

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