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Tester Says He Makes Education Priority

As the school year starts in Montana, many communities are struggling finding the teachers they need for their students.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., says he is troubled by the teacher shortage in the state and especially northeastern Montana. He feels the key to attracting quality teachers is investing in public schools.

Tester has pushed for a number of critical investments in public education in this upcoming year’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. For example, Tester pushed for robust funding for federal K-12 education programs, including a $5.5 billion total increase and a $2.1 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“As school starts back up for students across the Treasure State, it’s important that we make sure our public school students and teachers have the resources they need to be successful,” Tester said. “While working with my colleagues on the appropriations bills for next year, I fought to ensure that the legislation increases funding for critical programs that support students with disabilities, who come from low-income backgrounds and who are navigating mental health challenges. As a former public school teacher, I can tell you that these are the types of programs that have a lasting impact on our kids and motivate quality teachers to keep coming back to the public school system year after year.”

The senator notes that as co-chair of the Congressional TRIO Caucus, Tester was instrumental in securing $1.275 billion for TRIO – an increase of $138 million from last year’s budget. Federal TRIO programs are federal outreach and student services programs that are aimed at identifying and providing services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The FY23 budget also includes $1 billion for mental health professional development and mental health services in schools, which will help teachers better support students, while expanding the mental health workforce in schools.

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