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Letter to Senator Salazar expressing NEA's support for the Rural Teacher Retention Act of 2007 (S. 583)

July 18, 2007

Dear Senator Salazar:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we are writing to offer our support for the Rural Teacher Retention Act of 2007 (S. 583). We thank you for your leadership in offering this legislation, which would enable states to award bonuses to highly qualified teachers who commit to teach for at least three academic years in a rural area.

As you know, no single factor impacts student learning more than the opportunity to learn from quality teachers. Unfortunately, rural school districts often have difficulty attracting and retaining teachers. Professional isolation and chronically low salaries and benefits exacerbate the difficulty in recruiting and retaining quality teachers in rural and small town schools. Rural school teachers earn less than their counterparts on average and may be asked to teach more than one subject. Rural teachers are also less likely to have access to professional development, special services, and opportunities for peer collaboration. 

As such, we are pleased that your bill would provide grants to ten states to provide bonuses for teachers in rural schools. We believe these bonuses will help attract and retain qualified professionals in these traditionally hard-to-staff rural areas. 

We thank you again for your leadership on this issue and looking forward to continuing to work with you in support of great public schools for every child. 


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy