Encouraging and Rewarding Teachers Aim of U.S. Rep. Trahan’s Proposed STRONG Act

Congresswoman Lori Trahan at a Haverhill Democratic City Committee event in 2018. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The teaching profession may be in line for some help from federal lawmakers.

Congresswoman Lori Trahan, a guest earlier this week on WHAV’s morning show, is in Washington for the introduction of a bill that would authorize $6 billion in spending programs, including teacher residencies, to help support teachers during the coronavirus pandemic. Trahan describes what the proposed “Supporting Teachers with Residency Opportunities and New Grants”—known as STRONG—Act.

“It amends the Higher Ed Act to expand eligibility for our undergraduate students with a major related to teaching, to enter into the Teacher Residency Program, to fast track prospective teachers into the workforce—either virtually, or in-person—so we can provide additional assistance, and much needed back-up to our existing teacher pools,” she explained.

Trahan says the measure would also allow undergraduate students, enrolled in a teacher residency, to enter into the public service loan forgiveness program.

“We want to incentivize, much like we did with nurses back in the spring, to get our new and prospective teachers into the pipeline so that they can help where our existing teachers may not be able to be in a classroom, or may have health concerns that prohibit them,” she said.

Trahan says one in four teachers have pre-existing health condition that puts them at a higher risk if they contract COVID-19 and this legislation would help expand the available teacher pool.

Trahan, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, joined with Congresswomen Jahana Hayes of Connecticut and Cheri Bustos of Illinois to introduce the legislation. The bill has been endorsed by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

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