WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Teacher, Principal and Leader Residency Access Act on Monday to improve access to training for college students who aspire to become teachers and leaders in America’s schools, and help build a diverse pipeline of experienced teachers and school leaders. More than half of all public schools in the U.S. reported being understaffed at the start of the 2022-23 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

This legislation would ensure students participating in teacher and school leader residency programs are eligible for the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program, a campus-based aid program that funds part-time employment opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in need of financial assistance based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“Nothing prepares you like on-the-job experience, but college and graduate students who want to work as student teachers aren’t currently eligible for federal work-study compensation. This legislation would get more aspiring educators into the classroom while they’re still pursuing their degree. Expanding access to teacher residency programs like the one we have in Connecticut will help tackle the educator shortage and improve student outcomes,” said Murphy.

“The effects of teacher shortages are devastating: Schools are closing, and America’s kids aren’t getting the education they need to succeed after graduation. Kids deserve to learn from capable teachers, but many young educators don’t get practical experience before they enter the classroom. Louisiana’s future rests on education, and we can improve schools by giving educators access to the training they need,” said Kennedy.

The Connecticut Teacher Residency Program (TRP) provides hands-on training for underemployed or unemployed adults, with residents participating in courses for 18 months and working with a mentor teacher for one school year while receiving pay and benefits. Residents are guaranteed a full-time teaching position upon completion of the program.

Full text of the legislation is available here.