Virginia Governor Issues Executive Order To Address The State’s Teacher Shortage

The governor's directive will address the issue by making it easier for Virginia teachers to come out of retirement and creating new pathways for those seeking credentials.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently issued an Executive Directive to specifically address the teacher shortage. Districts across the nation have been experiencing difficulty keeping classrooms and other areas of interest properly staffed. Because of this, the new directive clears a pathway for Virginia teachers to come out of retirement to return to the profession and even creates apprenticeship programs to help license new educators

The hope is that this new initiative will draw interest back to schools and increase the number of Virginia teachers. The state struggled to fill some 2,593 open teaching positions last year. American schools are so desperate for teachers that they have increased teacher pay, offered massive bonuses, and even switched to a simpler 4-day school week

Similar legislation like the Virginia teachers directive has been passed in Florida and Arizona, and each approach has met with mixed reviews from the public. Veterans and family members of those who have served have been given the opportunity to become teachers with more ease. In Arizona, anyone with a bachelor’s degree is now approved to become an educator. 

Now, potential Virginia teachers are finding their pathway to educating children opened with more enthusiasm. The Superintendent of Public Instruction has been given the ability to renew licenses at their discretion with an emphasis on allowing retired educators to be welcomed back. This is in addition to new efforts to award grants for filling vacant teaching positions, teacher bonuses, and utilizing COVID-19 relief funds to help fill in positions that became empty during the pandemic. 

In addition, a Virginia teacher’s apprenticeship program is to be designed. This will give new teachers the training needed to enter the profession with a proper understanding of the skills needed. This is to be partnered with a statewide child care specialist apprenticeship designed for high school students who are interested in becoming teachers. 

What’s more, the state Secretary of Education is tasked with developing childcare support programs within schools to offer Virginia teachers and families more support. This is in connection with a Child Care Subsidy Program that will serve as a national model for state-run childcare programs. By doing so, the hope is that teachers who have decided to leave the profession to care for their own children will be drawn back to the profession with low-cost, and even “free” taxpayer-funded babysitters. 

Lastly, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is to update “Standards of Quality,” by expanding school monitoring to properly record vacant teaching positions and identify areas most in need of help. Teachers will also be given a survey questionnaire to list their concerns and areas of need. This is expected to help state officials understand why teachers are leaving the profession and student interest in teaching has dropped to historical lows. 

Virginia teachers
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Just how much this Executive Directive will cost the taxpayers was not detailed in this order. Being that this Virginia teachers initiative was not introduced through traditional legislation it is also unclear how much public support the measure will receive. For now, the state is attempting to combat the ongoing teacher shortage — much like other areas in the country.