Congress Gives Final Approval to Bennet-Backed Expansion of Troops to Teachers

Provision Included in Final NDAA Bill, Sent to President for Signature

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today hailed the final passage of the National Defense Authorization bill, which includes a provision to expand the successful Troops to Teachers program. The expanded program will help our veterans extend their service to America in classrooms across the country. The bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

The Troops to Teachers expansion has been a priority of Bennet’s since his early days in the Senate. He first introduced the bipartisan bill with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in 2009.

“The expanded Troops to Teachers program will build on the its success and be a valuable asset as we help our service members’ transition from their military service to civilian careers,” Bennet said. “As we work to recruit a new generation of teachers, we can bring the talents and leadership skills of our troops to the classroom. We’re meeting two vital needs with this program and strengthening our kids’ chances for success, and to a greater extent, our country’s competitiveness in the global economy.”

The Troops to Teachers program, originally created in 1994, provides qualified troops with financial incentives to teach in our nation's neediest schools. Since the program was created, a majority of Troops to Teachers have been concentrated in seven states, including Colorado. As of 2009, over 12,000 Troops to Teachers participants have been hired nationally at public schools through the program.

Despite the program's success, many service members are ineligible to participate in the current program because of certain restrictions, including the requirement of six years of military service and limits on the number of schools eligible to participate in the program. In Colorado, many of the school districts located near military installations – where Troops to Teachers participants often prefer to teach – are excluded from participation because of the restrictions on eligible schools.

The provision is based on the bipartisan Post-9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act, which was introduced last Congress by Bennet and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and would make the Troops to Teachers program more accessible by reducing length of service requirements and expanding the number of eligible schools in which participants can teach once they receive their teacher’s license or certification.