Exactly one week after the release of the Alliance for Excellent Education’s new report, Every Child a Graduate, the House of Representatives passed the “Canceling Loans to Allow School Systems to Attract Classroom Teachers Act” (CLASS ACT), a loan-forgiveness bill for teachers that embodies a key component of the report’s Teacher and Principal Quality Initiative. Passed by voice vote on Oct. 1, the bill, H.R. 5091, would provide up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for qualified teachers who teach five years in a Title I school.
The payment would be made in a lump sum after a teacher has fulfilled the requirement for five consecutive years of full-time teaching in a qualified elementary or secondary school. To qualify, a school must be in a school district eligible for Title I grants and must have more than 30 percent of its students from low-income families. In addition, teachers must be deemed qualified as elementary school teachers or be secondary school teachers teaching in an area related to their college major. In making the payments on behalf of teachers, the Secretary of Education would have to give priority to special education teachers, teachers in failing schools, and math or science teachers. The House bill expands the $5,000 teacher loan forgiveness program in current law and is very similar to a proposal included in the President’s budget.
Harkin Gets Ball Rolling on Teacher Loan Forgiveness in the Senate
Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a loan forgiveness bill along the lines of the House-passed version. While the House bill requires an appropriation to make the $17,500 possible, Harkin’s bill would guarantee the full amount to every qualified teacher. In addition, Harkin would allow loan forgiveness to any teacher who teaches for five years in a Title I school-without the priority that the House gives to special education, math and science teachers. It is doubtful that the Senate will have time to act on this proposal before adjourning this year, but Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, wants to include a loan forgiveness program in the the Higher Education Act reauthorization expected next year.
Tax Credits for Teachers
In its recent report, Every Child a Graduate, the Alliance makes the case for a $4,000 annual income tax credit to encourage America’s best teachers and principals to accept the challenge of working in high-poverty schools. The credit would go to teachers in states and school districts that are willing to increase resources dedicated to paying teachers as skilled professionals. Some lawmakers have already seized on this initiative, albeit with a lower amount than the Alliance recommends.
I TEACH: New Federal Tax Credit Would Help Recruit and Retain Qualified Teachers
A new bill introduced by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) would provide financial incentives to help school districts recruit and retain qualified teachers. The Incentives to Educate American Children Act (I TEACH) would reward individuals for their commitment to teaching in two ways. The bill, S. 2844, would provide a $1,000 tax credit for teachers who work in rural or low-income schools and provide a $1,000 tax credit to teachers who earn a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.
“This bill promotes and rewards high quality standards [for] a profession that is often overlooked and taken for granted,” Rockefeller said. “American educators are unsung heroes. They work diligently to prepare our kids for the future and often do not receive the compensation and rewards they deserve.”
House Bill Would Offer Tax Credits for Teachers
A bill by Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) would provide a $2,000 non-refundable tax credit for teachers, assistant teachers, principals and assistant principals who teach full time in a Title I school. The bill targets Title I schools because they are in the poorest neighborhoods and have the greatest difficulty keeping experienced teachers. If the bill is passed, the tax credits would be available to teachers in the 44,877 Title I schools in the country beginning in the 2003 tax year.