RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration has launched a new social media and advertising campaign designed to convince Virginians to “Become a Teacher,” as vacancies in classrooms pile up across the commonwealth.
The announcement by State Superintendent Jillian Balow comes a little over a month after Youngkin issued an executive directive calling for barriers to teacher licensure to be lowered and for increased targeting of grants to help people become teachers.
“Our goal is to ensure that every child in the commonwealth is taught by a qualified teacher,” Balow said.
At the center of the campaign is a website designed to help those interested in becoming teachers find a path to a job — without necessarily going through the traditional degree and licensure process.
The campaign is funded in part by federal COVID relief money, in the form of a $1 million grant. The governor’s order also directs Balow to “develop additional legislative proposals to
reduce red tape associated with teacher licensure, while ensuring high standards.”
“The Become A Teacher campaign and Turning the Tide reflect extensive research including interviews with teachers, career-switchers and students enrolled in teacher preparation programs,” Balow said.
That includes proposals to make it easier for military veterans, those with non-teaching degrees, and teachers licensed in other states to get licensure in Virginia.
One thing not mentioned in either Youngkin’s executive directive, the “Become a Teacher” campaign, or the related Turning the Tide initiative is teacher pay.
This data reflects teacher pay rates for the 2019-2020 school year.
Virginia has consistently been rated one of the worst states in the union for teacher pay, and while many localities have made efforts to improve pay to attract more candidates, they’re hampered by a lack of state funding.
A 2021 report found that of the ten states with the highest household income, Virginia ranked dead last in state education spending, shelling out less than half the money per pupil as Washington state, where household incomes are just $2,000 more.
Some localities, like Henrico County, have embraced the governor’s initiatives, holding information sessions aimed at those with bachelor’s degrees but no teacher’s license.