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Letter to Representative Petri supporting his Troops to Teachers Improvement Act

April 05, 2007

Dear Representative Petri:


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 Improvement Act (H.R. 711). 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 H.R. 711 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, the Troops to Teachers program 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 $10,000 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 permitting a veteran who does not live within 50 miles of an eligible school under the current definition to teach in any school serving low-income students or needing highly qualified teachers. Thus, it would allow more veterans to participate in Troops to Teachers and would help ensure that our nation’s classrooms are staffed by qualified, caring teachers with a sense of purpose.

We would like to note, however, our concern with President Bush's proposal for an adjunct teacher corps and alternative routes to certification, which you referenced in your floor statement. We would also like to encourage you to address the impact of certain Social Security offsets 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. 

We look forward to working with you on these issues and to garner support for your bill as Congress begins reauthorizing NCLB. If you need any assistance, please contact either Kim Anderson (Kanderson@nea.org) in NEA Government Relations or Donna Harris-Aikens (DHarris-Aikens@nea.org) in NEA Education Policy and Practice.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy

cc:

Stan Johnson, President, Wisconsin Education Association Council
Dan Burkhalter, Executive Director, Wisconsin Education Association Council