Delaware Advances “Grow Your Own Teacher” Efforts as Teacher Shortage Drags On
Teacher shortages in Delaware are nothing new. For years, public schools have struggled to attract harder-to-find science, math, and foreign language teachers, and recently those shortages have even reached traditionally sought-after areas like elementary education and social studies.
In addition to addressing educator compensation, preparation, and retention, Delaware lawmakers are looking inside their own borders through “Grow Our Own” efforts to attract more locals to the profession starting in high school.
Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity Opportunities
- One quarter of Delaware’s public school educators and paraprofessionals will be eligible to retire in the next five years – and the size of Delaware’s teacher workforce is expected to grow by 6% over the next ten years.
- Only 18% of the educator workforce identifies as a race other than white compared to 58% of the student population
- Delaware’s preparation programs currently only prepare about half of Delaware’s novice educators
In recent years, 14 states have enacted “Grow Your Own” policies—28 have a GYO-focused policy, and 18 fund some type of GYO program. These include: funding allocations to support scholarships, incentive programs for districts and educator preparation programs to develop programs, support for certification and licensure, and recruitment initiatives.
As part of the settlement of Delawareans for Educational Opportunity v Carney, the high-stakes education funding lawsuit that settled in 2020, the state committed to adding $4 million to the budget beginning in Fiscal Year 2023 “to enhance recruitment and retention in high-needs schools.” And in 2020, the Redding Consortium Educator Work Group recommended Grow Your Own programming to support recruiting efforts and related education professionals, community members, parents, and other representatives of the school population.
House Bill 430, recently introduced by Rep. Kim Williams, provides a framework for the state Department of Education to invest in district- and charter-led Grow Your Own initiatives. The bill codifies the use of state funds and how those can support district efforts to train, stay connected with, and eventually hire their own graduates.
Priorities in the framework include educator diversity, recruiting from within the school community, supporting candidates to navigate postsecondary education and certification/licensure, and partnerships with institutions of higher education. Districts and charters will be asked to assess their retention initiatives and how they customize support for new teachers – those who have been trained traditionally and those who have been part of a Grow Your Own and/or Year-Long Teacher Residency.
Funds can be used to start up new programs, staff and grow current programs, change hiring policies and practices, and support teacher candidates. And, the state can allocate funds to catalyze new initiatives including establishing “earn and learn” models such as apprenticeship for educator candidates, which has been done recently in other states.
We applaud the work of the General Assembly to build on the establishment of a state framework for year-long teacher residencies last year by extending the work to advance Grow Your Own efforts in Delaware.