Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today secured a provision to expand the successful Troops to Teachers program, which would help our veterans extend their service to America in classrooms across the country. Bennet’s provision was accepted into the Defense Authorization bill which is currently before the Senate.
The Troops to Teacher’s 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.
“An increasing number of service members are transitioning from military service to civilian careers. We can make that transition easier by removing barriers for troops who want to enlist their talents in the effort to teach our children,” Bennet said. “Our teachers are critical to our kids’ success, and to a greater extent, our country’s competitiveness in the emerging global economy. This amendment builds upon the success of the Troops to Teachers program and makes it easier for more veterans to enter more classrooms.”
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 public schools through the program.
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 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 their receive their teacher’s license or certification.