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Teacher Shortage Prompts Virginia Governor to Order Emergency Solutions

As Virginia schools struggle with a dearth of teachers, Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants colleges and universities to be able to fast-track the training of aspiring educators.

By Matt McKinney

As Virginia schools struggle with a dearth of teachers, Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants colleges and universities to be able to fast-track the training of aspiring educators.

McAuliffe signed an executive order Monday directing the state Board of Education to adopt emergency rules that would allow colleges and universities to offer a four-year undergraduate degree in teaching, rather than a five-year master's program.

"Given the cost of higher education and the severe need for additional teachers, I believe changing this requirement will encourage more Virginians to pursue careers in education and will help supply more future teachers to meet the growing needs of our public school system," McAuliffe said in the directive.

He ordered the board to adopt the rules by March 1, 2018.

McAuliffe also announced five budget actions to address teacher shortages. Those include providing:

* $1.1 million to automate the state's teacher licensure process

* $1 million to recruit and retain principals in the state's "most challenged school divisions"

* $225,000 more to the Tuition Assistance Grant program to persuade students attending private colleges and universities in Virginia to pursue teaching. Each student who pursues an education degree would receive an extra $500.

* $100,000 to help provisionally licensed minority students pay for tests and test-preparation programs

* Changes to the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program that would make students eligible for up to $20,000 if they teach for two years in a top-five critical shortage area in a high-poverty school division.

Special education, elementary education and middle education are the top three critical shortage teaching endorsements in Virginia this school year, according to the state Education Department. The state's public schools entered this year with about 1,000 vacant teaching positions, according to the Virginia Education Association.

(c)2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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