Wisconsin Senator helps introduce bill to address teacher shortage

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)– Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) is teaming up with senators from Minnesota and Illinois to address a shortage of teachers.

The Retaining Educators Takes Added Investment Now (RETAIN) Act was introduced late last week. The legislators say it would address shortages of early childhood and K-12 teachers.

The shortages disproportionately impact students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. It would create a tax refundable credit for teachers, mental health providers and others in low-income communities and communities of color.

And it increases as the educators become more experienced, which Baldwin says would incentivize retention.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, America was facing a shortage of qualified early childhood and K-12 teachers because they are so often underpaid and overworked, especially in low-income communities. In order to ensure that every student in America has access to a high quality education, regardless of where they live, we must do more to support our nation’s educators,” said Senator Baldwin, in a statement. “With many states and districts facing looming budget cuts during this crisis, this problem is in even more urgent need of solutions. Providing a fully refundable tax credit to teachers and staff at Title I schools is a commonsense way to both reward our educators for the work they do and boost retention in our schools, which will ultimately create a higher quality learning environment for our nation’s kids.”

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith (D) and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) are joining Baldwin on the legislation.