December 6, 2019

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AASA Endorses The Diversify Act

This week, AASA is proud to announce its endorsement of the Diversifying by Investing in Educators and Students to Improve Outcomes For Youth Act (DIVERSIFY Act), in alignment with our higher Ed priority to support the preservation and expansion of resources in Title II of the Higher Education Act for future and current teachers to address the national teacher shortage. For context, the TEACH grants are a service scholarship program that provides $4,000 per year in funding to undergraduate and graduate students who commit to teaching a high-need subject at a high-poverty elementary or secondary school for 4 years upon graduation. Unfortunately, since 2007 the grant award has not increased to keep up with the rising cost of college. Consequently, limiting the program's potential and disincentivizing low-income and diverse teacher candidates from entering the educator workforce.

To fix this, the Diversify Act would (1) increase the maximum TEACH Grant award to $8,000 per year to align with the full cost of college – which exceeds $20,000 a year; and (2) protect the TEACH Grant award from being cut by the Budget Control Act which this year alone resulted in a decrease to the maximum award amount by nearly $250. At a time when one of the major barriers to a well-prepared and diverse teacher workforce is the high cost of college and student loan debt, these reforms will save districts the expense of replacing educators who quickly leave the field, and ensure that the students furthest away from opportunity will have access to diverse teachers who have completed high-quality pathways into the profession.