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Troops to Teachers Available to Reserve Components

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2002 – The worst teacher shortage ever is now approaching, according to figures compiled by the National Education Association. Reserve component personnel can help alleviate the problem.

In January 2002, the Troops to Teachers program expanded to include reserve component service members. Under the program, the U.S. Department of Education and the Defense Department team up to help qualified service members transition from the military to teaching careers.

The Troops to Teachers program is designed to recruit quality teachers for schools serving low-income families and to relieve teacher shortages.

The program began in 1994 and since its inception has provided monetary and guidance support to qualified active duty service members.

Reservists who wish to participate in the program must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or have one year of college with six years experience in a vocational or technical field.

Reservists qualify under four different options:

  • Retired from the drilling reserves with 20 or more years on or after Oct. 1, 1999; must apply for the program within four years of retirement.

  • Now serving in the drilling reserves with 10 or more years of creditable service and commit to serving an additional three years or until eligible for retirement.

  • Retired or separated from the drilling reserves due to a physical disability on or after Jan. 8, 2002; must apply within four years of separation.

  • Transitioning from active duty on or after Jan. 8, 2002, with six or more years of active duty immediately prior to separation and a commitment to serve three years with a drilling reserve unit; must apply within four years of separation.

Pending availability of funds, eligible individuals may receive up to $5,000 to offset teacher certification expenses and an additional $5,000 bonus if they teach in a school serving a high percentage of students from low- income families.

Schools around the country will need some 2.4 million teachers in the next 11 years because of teachers retiring, teachers leaving the classrooms and increased student enrollment. The NEA said the need will be most acute in bilingual and special education positions, mathematics, sciences, computer science, and English-as-a-Second- Language and foreign language specialists.

In high-poverty urban and rural districts alone, more than 700,000 new teachers will be needed in the next 10 years. About 42 percent of all public schools in the United States have no minority teachers. The percentage of minority teachers is expected to shrink to an all-time low of 5 percent, while 41 percent of American students will be minorities.

More than 4,000 Troops to Teachers participants have been hired since the program began.

If you are interested in still serving your country and discovering a new and rewarding career in teaching, access www.ProudToServeAgain.com, the Troops to Teachers web site, for more information. The site will provide you the latest updates on the program, resource links for program applicants and important links to state-specific education sites.

(Maj. Abbenbaus is an education specialist at Pensacola, Fla.)

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