Republicans and Glenn Youngkin are making it difficult for Black teachers to gain the necessary licensure to teach in the state of Virginia.
This year, the Virginia Department of Education stopped issuing grants to help educators of color obtain their full teaching license, despite funding from the state, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In 2018, the Department of Education launched the diversity grant program with the goal of helping Black and brown teachers obtain their full teaching licenses. Licensure lasts for around three years in the state of Virginia.
The cost-effective diversity grant was also offered to help prospective teachers who may not have the financial means to afford some of the expensive tests and tutoring fees often associated with the licensing process. For example, the Praxis test, which measures a teacher’s knowledge and skills in preparation for the classroom, can be difficult to pass without the proper exam preparation. The grant was a big help to Black and Brown teachers who would often have to jump over hurdles to receive extra test prep.
Funds for the diversity grant program are sitting idle.
Officials from the Department offered the grant from 2018 to 2021, but when Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office in 2022, the program was not available. Grants for 2023 have not been announced and the application for the program has since gone missing from the VDOE website. Candidates were never notified about the program’s dissolution.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, lawmakers allocated around $50,000 per year for the grants. Now, those unused funds are sitting stagnant with the state.
In a statement, VDOE chief of staff Jeremy Raley claimed that department officials were “currently evaluating” the grant program. “The Department will communicate more information as it becomes available,” he added with little to no explanation.
With the school year approaching, teachers within the state of Virginia are urging for Glenn Youngkin and the department to release the grant funds. Some community members fear that there could be a teacher shortage due to tight funding.
“We desperately need teachers,” state legislator Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg told ABC 8 News. VanValkenburg, who has been teaching for 18 years within the state of Virginia, worries that the lack of funding could present big challenges for schools.
“We want teachers from all different backgrounds,” the community activist and educator added. “Teachers from all different communities to be able to teach in a classroom, because … the research shows it enriches a student’s academic career. It helps them have higher achievement levels.”
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