Legislation to Strengthen Education for Rural Students, Montana Veterans, Native Americans Jon Tester announced a trio of bills to boost teacher recruitment in rural Montana, strengthen veterans' access to education benefits, and address workforce shortages at Indian Country schools.
PoliticalNews.me - Feb 27,2017 - Tester Announces Legislation to Strengthen Education for Rural Students, Montana Veterans, Native Americans
U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced a trio of bills to boost teacher recruitment in rural Montana, strengthen veterans' access to education benefits, and address workforce shortages at Indian Country schools.
Tester announced that he will be introducing the Rural Educator Support and Training (REST) Act to address teacher workforce shortages in rural America by providing scholarships, loan forgiveness, and professional development opportunities to educators who commit to work in rural schools.
"This legislation will incentivize folks to come to rural America to teach the next generation of leaders," said Tester, a former teacher. "Teaching is an honor and a responsibility, and we must fully staff our schools to ensure the future of rural America is strong."
The REST Act would provide scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in education or school administration who contract with rural schools for at least three years to cover tuition, fees, books, and a living stipend. Under the legislation, educators who work in a rural school for five years can apply for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. Additionally, educators in rural schools can receive funding to cover the costs of National Board Certification and their schools receive funding to provide them with a $5,000 - $10,000 salary increase.
Tester also announced he will be introducing the Educational Development (ED) for Troops and Veterans Act.
This bill will do five things:
Fixes a problem with existing law that prohibits certain National Guardsmen and Reservists from getting their full education benefits under the GI Bill
Ensures the GI Bill benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve keep up with the annual cost of tuition
More fairly distributes housing benefits to student veterans
Allows service members to defer their student loans during pre-deployment training
Establishes a grant program to help colleges establish veteran education centers
"Our service members have earned a quality education and it is our duty to make sure they maximize the benefits they earned while serving our country," said Tester, Ranking Member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. "This legislation will help Montana's brave men and women get the education they need to transition to civilian life."
Tester also introduced the Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act to help recruit and retain teachers in Indian Country by providing new scholarships, federal student loan forgiveness, and teacher development courses to prospective and existing educators who are either Native American or who commit to teaching at schools that serve a high population of Native students, including local public schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
"If we want to address teacher shortages head on, we must make college more affordable and accessible to those who want to teach in Indian Country," said Tester, member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "We must do all we can to incentivize our best and brightest to use their skills in classrooms that are home to Native American students."
Tester's NEST Act establishes