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Higgins: $3.5 million-plus in federal funding to address teacher shortages in Western New York


Thu, Oct 6th 2022 09:25 am

Funding will expand University at Buffalo’s teacher residency program

Congressman Brian Higgins announced a three-year grant totaling $3,564,905 awarded to the University at Buffalo.

His team said, “Funded by the U.S. Department of Education and awarded through Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Program, the grant will extend the university’s existing teacher residency to high-need school districts in order to address teacher shortages, workforce diversity and learning gaps resulting from the pandemic.”

Higgins explained, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for teachers in Western New York and across the country. From quick transitions to remote and hybrid learning, to the added stress of trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, they have faced many obstacles that have disrupted the traditional learning environment. Now, as students return to the classroom, they must address the educational gaps that resulted from pandemic-related learning disruptions amid nationwide staffing shortages.

“Funding from the U.S. Department of Education will not only address current staffing shortages in local schools, but it will also provide long-term investments in the teacher pipeline that ensure opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, it supports a strong education workforce in Western New York that is well prepared for success in the classroom.”

Suzanne Rosenblith, Ph.D., professor and dean of the UB Graduate School of Education, said, “We are deeply appreciative for the continued support the UB teacher residency program has received from the U.S. Department of Education. With this new grant, the UB teacher residency program will continue to increase educational opportunities for all students by recruiting, preparing and supporting racially, ethnically, economically and linguistically diverse professionals to work in Buffalo public schools.”

Higgins’ team said, “According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 53% of all public schools reported feeling understaffed entering the 2022-23 school year, and 69% reported a small pool of candidates as the biggest challenge to hiring teachers.

“The SEED program supports evidence-based practices that prioritizes educators’ growth throughout their careers. This year, program funding is being directed toward projects designed to support the education workforce through comprehensive teacher preparation programs that have strong track record of recruiting and placing underrepresented teacher candidates, and include one year of high-quality clinical experiences. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education is prioritizing projects designed to help teachers create inclusive and equitable learning environments that meet students’ social, emotional and academic needs.

“Partnering with the Buffalo City School District, Sweet Home Central Schools, Amherst Central Schools and Kenmore Tonawanda Schools, the University at Buffalo will expand the scope of its existing 16-month teacher residency program. They will not only bolster support for districts currently taking part in the program, but they will also offer professional development opportunities for teachers at non-residency districts. Funding from the SEED program will allow UB to provide support for residents, novice teachers, emerging and existing teacher-leaders, and administrators. With a special focus on high-need first-ring suburbs, they will continue efforts to recruit, train and retain teachers from underrepresented, minority backgrounds.”

Over the next three years, the program intends to design and implement professional development experiences for 110 residency-affiliated educators that will reach approximately 2,500 K-12 students. It will also provide tailored professional learning opportunities for 275 emerging teacher-leaders who will reach more than 10,000 students across three school districts.

This year, the U.S. Department of Education invested more than $60 million in the SEED program. UB received one of just 22 grants awarded across the country. In 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration has provided more than $285 million in additional support for teachers.

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