House Passes Wilson Bill to Recruit and Retain Teachers in Critical Subjects

Jul 9, 2003
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) bill, H.R. 438 the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act, to ensure America’s neediest children have qualified math, science and special education teachers by a vote of 417-7. “The purpose of this bill is simple but monumental. We need to recruit and retain qualified math, science and special ed teachers to ensure our children have the skills necessary to compete in a highly technical global economy”, explained Rep. Wilson. “This problem is most apparent in my own district, where I represent some of the most disadvantaged South Carolina counties such as Jasper and Allendale, surrounded by very affluent counties like Lexington and Beaufort. The children in these struggling communities are no less eager to learn, and should be taught by highly-trained and qualified teachers.” “This bill will help affect over 100 teachers in South Carolina alone, and 7,000 teachers throughout the America. Every child deserves the high-quality teachers and this bill helps accomplish that goal in a very sensible way,” said Rep. Wilson. This bill will provide up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness to teachers who agree to teach in low-income districts for five years with payments beginning after the second year of teaching in these subjects that face shortages as high as 95%. All teachers who teach in low-income schools will continue to be eligible for loan forgiveness in the amount of $5,000 provided in current law. “We want our children to be taught by caring, committed, and educated professionals,” said Education and the Workforce Chairman John Boehner (R-OH). “This bill will enable high need elementary and secondary schools to attract highly qualified teachers, and get the best and the brightest into the classroom. “ “I applaud President Bush’s leadership in education and for including this important provision in his budget, and I thank Chairman John Boehner for his continued leadership on this issue”, said Rep. Wilson. “Each teacher that participates in this program can take pride knowing they are helping prepare all children for a job market reliant on math and science skills.” Eligible teachers for the loan forgiveness must be highly qualified as defined in the No Child Left Behind Act, which ensures children have the best possible opportunity to master skills the American Society for Mechanical Engineers has identified as an urgent need. The teachers must teach in a school with at least 40% of its student body receiving Free and Reduced Lunch. Other groups supporting this bill include the National School Board Association, the American Chemical Society and IBM. The ACS reports the demand for scientists and engineers will increase more than twice as fast as any other occupation, and “the need for a scientifically literate population is essential to boost our economy and strengthen our national security”. ###