Supporting Our Troops and Our Schools
NEA supports initiatives to help troops transition to teaching
By Kevin Hart
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 -- As America celebrates Veteran’s Day this week, talk turns to how we can best honor our troops and the sacrifices they have made to protect our nation. That’s why NEA has long been a vocal advocate of the Troops to Teachers program, which helps military personnel secure good jobs in America’s classrooms once their service has ended.
Employment for veterans has been a top priority for the Obama Administration as well, which announced this week the launch of the Veterans Employment Initiative for the Executive Branch, which is designed to help federal agencies recruit, hire and train more veterans.
Ensuring America’s military personnel make a smooth transition to civilian life has always been important to NEA, which lobbied for the Troops to Teachers program when it was enacted by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1994.
The Troops to Teachers program provides retiring military personnel with stipends to cover the cost of earning a teaching certification in exchange for three years service in a high-need school. More than 12,000 former members of the armed services have taken advantage of the program since it first began.
When the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in 2001, it inadvertently restricted the number of schools at which participants could fulfill their service. NCLB cast a narrow definition of what qualified as a high-need school, making many Title I schools ineligible.
NEA has lobbied to increase the number of schools that would qualify to be part of Troops to Teachers, arguing that there are many more low-income schools that would benefit from the highly-trained teachers produced by the program.