Once again, the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan is coming through for Iowa.
Nineteen Iowa schools were selected for awards under the Teacher and Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship Pilot Grant Program, according to an announcement made by Gov. Kim Reynolds Thursday.
The program was created with $9 million in education relief funds (ESSER III) from the American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021. Reynolds previously chided the Rescue Plan as a blue-state bailout.
Approximately $45.64 million was awarded and the list of school districts receiving the grants can be found here. It includes schools in the Des Moines metro, Marshalltown ($1,236,870), Newton ($1,103,269), and Burlington ($485,792), among others. The program starts in the 2022-23 school year.
For high school students interested in being educators, the program creates a hands-on way for those students and adults to become paraeducators and receive an associate’s degree while they learn and work in the classroom. The same program will give paraeducators the chance to earn their bachelor’s degree.
To ensure everyone is being educated and trained properly, school districts will partner with local community colleges or four-year colleges.
The program is meant to make entering the education field easier, especially amid a growing teacher shortage. Another goal is to increase teacher diversity in Iowa, where 97% of teachers are white. As a result, one component of applying for the grant is participant diversity.
Reynolds announced this apprenticeship grant program in her Condition of the State Address in January this year.
“The overwhelming response we received for this grant opportunity has been truly remarkable and is evident of the great interest and passion that lies within our students and paraeducators to jumpstart their careers in education,” she said in the announcement.
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