Federal Policy and Legislation
AACTE supports several bills introduced during the first session of the 115th Congress. Below is a list of these bills, hyperlinks to the full bill text, the original sponsor, and a short summary about each bill. This page will be updated to reflect additions of new bills as they are introduced throughout the 115th Congress.
Wondering if your representative or senator has cosponsored a bill? Go to www.congress.gov and search on the bill number (e.g., S. 457) to find out.
The Rural Educator Support and Training Act (REST Act) – S. 457
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 to (1) establish several new grant programs for students training to become educators in rural schools and (2) enhance federal student loan forgiveness for rural educators. It contains the following provisions:
- The Department of Education (ED) shall award undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships to students who are studying to become educators in rural schools. To be eligible, a recipient must maintain acceptable academic standing and shall agree to fulfill a service obligation of three or more years, depending on the number of years for which funding is provided.
- ED may also award grants to eligible educational agencies for the purpose of (1) reimbursing eligible rural educators for out-of-pocket costs associated with obtaining National Board certification and (2) increasing annual compensation for eligible rural educators who have become certified.
- Rural educators shall also be eligible for additional student loan forgiveness. Specifically, a teacher who is employed for five consecutive years in a rural school shall be eligible for up to $17,500 in federal student loan forgiveness. (Under current law, a highly qualified teacher who is employed for five consecutive years in a high-poverty school is eligible for up to $5,000 in federal student loan forgiveness; such a teacher who teaches mathematics, science, or special education is eligible for up to $17,500).
The Native Educator Support and Training Act (NEST Act) – S. 458
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish scholarships, loan forgiveness plans, and training programs for educators who commit to teaching in Native American or Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools. The bill does the following:
- Establishes three scholarship programs for students who are seeking degrees in education or in school administration at institutions of higher education and who commit to teaching in Native American or BIE schools:
- The Indian Student Educator Scholarship Program for students seeking degrees
- The Indian Educator Scholarship Program for Indian students seeking degrees
- The Indian Educator Graduate Fellowship Program for Indian students seeking graduate degrees
Recipients of the scholarships must commit to working for a BIE school, a school serving Native Americans, or other specified schools and agencies for the greater of 3 years or the number of school years that the scholarship funded.
- Establishes loan forgiveness programs for educators and Native Americans who have taught for at least five consecutive years at BIE schools or local educational agencies with high percentages of Native American students.
- Extends the federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program to educators teaching in BIE schools or in Native American language immersion programs.
- Reimburses educators and Native Americans teaching in BIE schools or local educational agencies with high percentages of Native American students for out-of-pocket expenses associated with becoming National Board certified. In addition, this measure would offer $5,000-$10,000 in increased compensation for each year the recipient of National Board certification remains at the school where the recipient was teaching when National Board certification was received under this grant.
- Establishes the Native American Language Teacher Training Program to provide grants for institutions of higher education to develop training programs for Native American immersion and language teachers.
This bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (1) shall grant a three-year provisional protected presence to a qualifying immigrant, (2) may not remove the immigrant from the United States unless such protected presence is rescinded, and (3) shall provide such immigrant with employment authorization.
An immigrant is eligible for such protected presence and employment authorization if the immigrant
- Was born after June 15, 1981;
- Entered the United States before attaining 16 years of age;
- Continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
- Was physically but unlawfully present in the United States on June 15;
- On the date the immigrant files an application the immigrant is present in the United States, is enrolled in school or in an education program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school or a general educational development certificate, or is an honorably discharged U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces veteran;
- Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act; and
- Does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or a threat to public safety.
- The bill provides for confidentiality of application information, with certain national security and law enforcement exceptions, and sets forth the criteria under which DHS may rescind protected presence.
- An immigrant granted protected presence is not considered to be unlawfully present in the United States during such period.
- An immigrant must be at least 15 years old, unless in removal proceedings, to apply for protected presence.
- DHS may provide for an application fee and for fee exemptions.
- DHS may not (1) remove an immigrant who appears prima facie eligible for protected presence while the immigrant's application is pending, or (2) refer individuals whose cases have been deferred pursuant to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) or who have been granted protected presence to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
- A DACA immigrant is deemed to have protected presence through the expiration date of his or her deferred action status.
Teacher Health and Wellness Act – H.R. 2544
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
This bill provides support for the profession by creating a five-year pilot study at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aimed at reducing teacher stress, increasing teacher health, increasing teacher retention, and ultimately boosting student achievement. The bill asks NIH to study the following:
- Workplace wellness programs that are designed to improve teacher health, attendance, and engagement.
- Social-emotional learning programs that help teachers improve student engagement in the classroom.
- Teacher stress management programs that improve teacher performance.
- Mentoring and induction programs that improve teacher retention.
- Organizational interventions such as principal training programs that reduce stress through supervisor/peer support.
- Teacher residency programs that provide mental health and psychological support.
- Complementary health approaches, such as mindfulness meditation, that improve teacher performance.
- Other innovative evidence-based approaches that reduce stress and increase well-being.
The bill requires a report of the findings to be submitted to the committees of jurisdiction and made available to the public.
The Teachers Are Leaders Act – S. 1413
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
The Teachers Are Leaders Act would authorize an allowable use of funds under the existing Teacher Quality Partnerships grant program in the Higher Education Act to allow high-need schools and colleges to partner together to
- Create Teacher Leader Development Programs: The locally designed programs would create innovative teacher leader roles that directly address demonstrated school needs. In such roles, teacher leaders would carry out leadership activities such as peer coaching, addressing school climate and discipline needs, or developing new dual enrollment courses.
- Improve teacher retention and student achievement: Teacher leader roles have been shown to improve recruitment and retention, as well as double the percentage of teachers who would choose to work in a low-performing school. In such roles, teacher leaders have also leveraged their valuable teaching expertise to improve student achievement and school culture. In some cases, teacher leaders have taken on projects that have resulted in innovative solutions that have been scaled beyond their school.
- Extend the continuum of teacher preparation and development: The Teachers Are Leaders Act recognizes that teachers continue to develop beyond their first years of teaching and should be prepared to follow differentiated career paths that foster new opportunities for professional growth, increase their voice in school decisions, and improve student achievement.
This bill would provide a path for young immigrants who entered the United States as children to attain lawful permanent residency status if they meet the following requirements:
- Are longtime residents who came to the United States as children;
- Graduate from high school or obtain a GED;
- Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military;
- Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee;
- Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
- Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.
In addition, the bill restores the ability of states to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency – but states are not required to do this.
EPRA does the following:
- Improves the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program, which incorporates the best of what research and practice show to be essential for effective preparation programs: extensive clinical experiences, preparing all teacher candidates to work with students with disabilities and English language learners, preparing all candidates to teach literacy, and providing induction support in teachers’ early years.
- Further improves the TQP program by expanding it to include principal residencies and to develop other educators needed by school districts, such as librarians, literacy specialists, and school counselors.
- Reforms the TEACH grants to target student eligibility to students at the junior and senior undergraduate levels or those in postbaccalaureate or graduate programs.
- Streamlines the data reporting requirements of indicators of program quality and performance for states as well as both institutions of higher education and other entities offering teacher preparation programs.
- Strengthens the state’s role in not only identifying at-risk and low-performing teacher preparation programs, but also supplying technical assistance to low-performing programs and closing programs that, given technical assistance and time to implement change, still fail to improve.
For questions about any of the bills, contact AACTE Government Relations Director Deborah Koolbeck.
Last Updated August 2017
Federal Policy & Legislation Resources
- Federal Funding | 10 April, 2017
- Federal Update Webinar | 15 December, 2016
- “Every Student Succeeds Act” Resources | 14 December, 2015
- Teacher Quality Partnership Grants | 28 June, 2013
- Elementary and Secondary Education Act | 4 December, 2011
- AACTE Recommendations, Testimony, and Statements on ESEA | 26 October, 2011
- Diverse Coalition Draws Line on ESEA Teacher Quality | 11 April, 2011
- AACTE Resources on HEA | 4 October, 2008
- AACTE Recommendations for HEA Reauthorization | 15 August, 2008
- Higher Education Opportunity Act | 4 August, 2008