Reports from the Capitol suggest Gov. Walker may be signing Assembly Bill 793 into law within the next week or so. This bill creates a rural teacher loan forgiveness program by modifying the state’s existing teacher loan program to include teachers in rural areas.
The WASB Government Relations team worked with Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) to develop this legislation as a way to help rural school districts to attract and retain teachers.
The Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) currently administers a teacher loan program for students who meet certain eligibility criteria, including enrollment in a program of study leading to a teaching license in a teacher shortage field. Eligible students may receive a loan of up to $10,000 annually for up to three years.
Under AB 793, HEAB must forgive 25 percent of the loan for each school year that the loan recipient: 1) is employed in a rural school district as a full-time elementary or secondary school teacher in a high-demand, teacher shortage field; and 2) receives a teacher rating of proficient or distinguished.
The WASB’s current Legislative Agenda places a priority on addressing the teacher shortage issue, including taking the following steps:
- Urging the DPI to convene a high-level task force as soon as possible to examine best practices and evidence-based solutions for addressing teacher shortages from around the country and recommend necessary changes.
- Recommending that a Legislative Council study committee be convened with a similar focus.
- Working to restore regular “teacher supply and demand reports” of the sort that used to be prepared regularly by the UW-Oshkosh or by the UW-Whitewater.
We are interested in hearing your thoughts on how teacher shortages are affecting your districts and what your districts are doing in response, as well as your ideas on how best to address teacher shortages.