Congress Needs to Act on Education
Washington, March 1, 2010
“As the recession continues and unemployment stubbornly holds near the double digits, we must not forget about the vital contribution school teachers make to our nation. There are two pieces of legislation that I hope will come before the House of Representatives this session that will make targeted and effective changes to current law in support of teachers. I am urging my colleagues to take-up and pass them without delay.
“The first is H.R. 3943, the Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers (TTT) Enhancement Act offered by Representatives Joe Courtney, Tom Petri and Doris Matsui. The bill will expand the TTT program, which has successfully sent about 12,000 military veterans into classrooms over the last 15 years. TTT offers financial assistance for military personnel to obtain their teaching certification and teach for at least three years, with additional funding going to those who agree to teach in schools with the most need. Apart from offering an excellent career option to departing military members, TTT directly targets major shortcomings identified by leaders in the education community: a shortage of male teachers, a shortage of minority teachers, and a shortage of math, science and special education teachers. Eighty percent of the program participants are male, thirty five percent are minorities and many veterans are well suited to teach science and math because they worked highly technical jobs in the military. Many students have also benefited from the military philosophy of hard work and sacrifice that former soldiers bring to the job.
“Another important issue is the teacher tax credit, which I was encouraged to see extended through 2010. The law gives every teacher a $250 credit to offset the costs of any purchase of classroom materials. We all can probably agree that teachers should never have to pay out of pocket for basic supplies like pencils and paper in their own classrooms. That said, $250 is not enough. Most teachers spend double that, and some spend much more. That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3758, the Teacher Tax Relief Act of 2009, introduced by Representative Dave Reichert. This bill increases the maximum deduction from $250 to $500, expands it to include professional development expenses, and makes it permanent. I will continue to push my colleagues to support this important legislation.