In February, we reported the startling number that students seeking education degrees in the UNC system had plunged by about 30 percent since 2010, just the latest evidence that the profession is growing increasingly unattractive to prospective teachers.
This week, a handful of state House Democrats have filed legislation they say should help to provide at least one incentive for teachers to remain in North Carolina.
House Bill 1031—co-sponsored by representatives Graig Meyer, Ed Hanes Jr., Bobbie Richardson and Brad Salmon—would funnel $38.5 million of the state’s lottery proceeds in the 2016-2017 fiscal year into a fund geared to help teachers repay their school loans.
According to the draft bill, the fund would be administered by the State Education Assistance Authority and could be used to help pay off loans for undergraduate or graduate studies. The fund would be accessible to licensed, full-time teachers employed in public and charter schools.
Teachers would be able to use the funds to repay oustanding loans for up to four years. Those who receive the financial assistance—limited to no more than $10,000 per calendar year—would be required to sign a “statement of intent” to remain a teacher in the state for at least four years, according to the draft.
House Democrats unveiled the bill in a press conference Wednesday morning, touting the draft legislation as a means for attracting teachers to the state.
Bill supporters said the $38.5 million appropriation is the “windfall” reaped in January by increased attention for a billion-dollar Powerball jackpot.
“We were looking for a way to support schools with a one-time infusion of cash,” said Meyer, a Democrat from Orange County. “We want the windfall to be a jackpot for North Carolina teachers.”