Federal Funding for Aspiring Teachers: An Investment in the Nation’s Future

Prepared To Teach, Bank Street College of Education

January 2022

This document was prepared by Prepared To Teach, an initiative out of Bank Street College of Education, as a concept paper to inform policy discussions at the U.S. Department of Education. The ideas here are the culmination of six years of work exclusively dedicated to exploring how teacher preparation in the United States—a loosely coupled system, at best—might be universally transformed so that every student has equitable access to the opportunity to learn from a teacher who is a qualified professional, the definition of which is operationalized here as someone who has received high-quality preparation through a teacher residency. The document is informed by research on teacher preparation and its impacts, aspiring teachers’ financial burdens, economic models of other clinical practice professions, shifts across other fields that have created stronger professions, and work with districts and programs across the nation to explore the feasibility of engaging the efforts that will be needed to transform systems.

Delivering on the promise of equitable, high-quality education for every student is, we believe, within reach. The positive impacts of shifting to universal teacher residencies for preparation will be profound and lasting, and costs are feasible, especially with coordinated planning and aligned initiatives at state, local, and federal levels. Beyond the educational case for these investments, moral arguments about equity, legal arguments about government’s responsibility to ensure its citizenry can participate in our democracy, and financial arguments about the trillions of dollars that improved education will bring to our economy are all strong. As the nation both struggles with and rebuilds from the pandemic, embracing this vision by understanding the power of quality, affordable preparation can chart a path to a stronger future.

The remainder of this document offers a high-level overview of the interconnected realities that will need to be considered to transform teacher preparation across the country. The first three sections offer key data and rationale we have found important for policymakers to build shared understandings around. The final three sections, starting here, focus on the potential for sustainable funding for teacher residencies.

We welcome discussion about any of these ideas and thank you for your invitation to share them.