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Another important bill to address teacher shortages expands the Teach Iowa Scholar (TIS) Program that provides qualified Iowa teachers with awards of up to $4,000 a year, for a maximum of five years, for teaching in Iowa schools in designated shortage areas. The bill would increase the maximum award to $7,500 a year for 5 years. Currently, priority for these grants are given to residents of Iowa. However, due to the shortage of teachers in Iowa and the lack of minority teachers in Iowa, this bill would give priority to minority persons in order to help recruit minority teachers to our great state. For the first time in Iowa, the class of 2019 had approximately 1 in 4 students that were minorities. Students of color now make up 24.9 percent of the student population. Because of the rise in the minority student population, it is important to ensure that Iowa’s schools also have diversity in the teaching staff and administration. For the 2018-2019 school year, only 2.6% of teachers in public schools were minority persons and only 2.7% of nonpublic school teachers were minority persons. There was some growth in the number of beginning full-time teachers who are minority persons with 5% of beginning full-time teachers in public school being minority and 7.5% of beginning full-time teachers in nonpublic schools being minority persons. It is important that all children have access to positive teaching, learning experiences, and role models with educators from a variety of backgrounds in order to be successful in an increasingly racially and culturally diverse society.

Author: Chris Cournoyer