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Gov. McAuliffe takes emergency actions to stop Virginia's teacher shortage

Executive order instructs universities to streamline education requirements

RADFORD, Va. – Governor Terry McAuliffe is taking emergency action to address Virginia’s growing teacher shortage.

Monday, he announced an executive directive and budget actions to reverse what he calls a crisis across the commonwealth.

In Virginia, the number of unfilled teacher positions has risen 40 percent over the past decade.

"There’s not enough good teachers. There's not enough people that are willing to go into the field and make what they make and stay there," education student Alyson Gilbert said.

Gilbert, a senior studying education at Radford University, is an exception.

"Since I was little, I’ve just known I need to be a teacher," Gilbert said.

That's why McAuliffe took emergency action to get aspiring teachers into classrooms faster. Right now, most colleges and universities in the commonwealth require a fifth year of school for students to get a teaching license with their master's. Now, the governor is changing that, with an executive order allowing students to teach with just a four-year bachelor's degree.

"Many people need to get out and work so being able to complete your degree and requirements for licensure just saves on time, saves on money and people can get right to work,” Radford College of Education Interim Dean Tamara Wallace said.

At Radford, education students can already complete their degree in four years.

"I think it's really helpful for students who are putting themselves through school. Many students are taking on that cost and they are incurring a lot of debt in student loans," Wallace said.

Wallace said this won't solve the problem of teacher shortages entirely, but it’s a good start.

Gilbert is doing her part to help, with plans to stay in southwest Virginia.

"I can't imagine going somewhere else. There's such a need for good teachers in this area," Gilbert said.

She hopes other people will do the same.