Letter to Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Bennet (D-CO) Supporting their Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act
November 16, 2009
Dear Senators McCain and Bennet:
On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our strong support for the Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act (S. 1932). We thank you for your leadership in introducing this legislation, which would improve opportunities for veterans to transition into second careers as educators. We believe S. 1932 offers a common-sense solution to restrictions inadvertently placed on the Troops to Teachers program under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
As you know, Troops to Teachers provides retiring veterans with stipends to cover the cost of earning a teaching certification in exchange for three years service in a high-need school (defined as receiving grants under part A of Title I until recently). The program also provides a bonus to those who agree to teach for three years in a school with 50 percent of students below the poverty level. When NCLB was drafted, however, the statute inadvertently restricted the number of schools at which participants could fulfill their service by defining a high-need school as one with either 10,000 students or 20 percent of students from low-income families.
Your bill would help address this situation by ensuring that veterans participating in the program can receive a stipend for teaching three years in any school that is in a district receiving Title I assistance. As a result, the bill would increase by 49 percent the number of schools eligible for the program and would help ensure that our nation’s classrooms are staffed by qualified, caring teachers with a sense of purpose. In addition, it would expand the number of veterans eligible for the program, thereby increasing the pool of potential participants in this important initiative.
We would like to encourage you to address the impact of certain Social Security offsets (the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision) on Troops to Teachers participants. Specifically, a veteran who moves into teaching in certain states could lose a significant portion of Social Security benefits earned during military service. It would be a shame if veterans participating in Troops to Teachers found their retirement security jeopardized as a result of entering the teaching profession.
Again, we thank you for your leadership in introducing this important legislation and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure great public schools for every student.
Manager of Federal Advocacy