Bipartisan Effort Will Expand Opportunities for Returning Troops to Teach in Colorado's, Nation's Schools
U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John McCain today introduced the bipartisan Post-9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act, which seeks to expand the existing Troops to Teachers program to allow more troops to teach in Colorado's and America's schools. The Troops to Teachers program, originally created in 1994, provides qualified troops with financial incentives to teach in the nation's neediest schools. Congressmen Joe Courtney and Tom Petri today introduced its companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
"Our military is the strongest in the world not because of our weapons, but because of the men and women who serve in its ranks. With that in mind, we should be doing everything we can to create, support and enhance pathways to the teaching profession, and allow our military men and women to continue their service in classrooms across the country," said Bennet. "Let's enlist their skills and experience to once again make America's system of public education the envy of the world and the driver of the American Dream."
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"As we continue to seek ways to improve the quality of education in our country, we should encourage programs like Troops to Teachers to incite returning service men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan to go into the classroom," said Senator John McCain. "Our veterans make excellent candidates to impart the virtues of service to the next generation and instill the value of learning as a means to self-improvement."
Since the program was created, a majority of Troops to Teachers have been hired in 7 states, including Colorado. To date, 582 returning veterans have secured employment as public school teachers in Colorado's schools.
Yet, despite the program's success, many men and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are ineligible to participate in the current program because of certain restrictions, including requirement of six years of military service and limits 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 these restrictions.
The Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act would update the current program to expand the number of schools eligible to participate in the program by 49 percent nationally, opening up 1,150 schools in Colorado to the program.
Specifically, the bipartisan Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act would:
- Make the Troops to Teachers program more accessible by reducing length of service requirements
- Expand the number of schools in which participants can qualify for a stipend towards the costs of becoming a teacher
- Create an advisory board charged with improving awareness of the program, increasing participation, and ensuring that the program meets the needs of our schools and our veterans