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Bush Plan for Defense Personnel Includes Teacher-Training Funds

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WASHINGTON--The House last week approved a defense bill that would authorize $180 million in fiscal 1993 to train laid-off military employees to teach in the nation's public schools.

In a 275-to-105 vote, the House endorsed the package, which would provide for a total of $1 billion for economic-conversion activities. Before the money could be released, however, the Office of Management and Budget would have to agree that it could come from the Defense Department, a requirement of the 1990 budget pact.

The teacher-corps provision would provide up to $25,000 a year for two years to subsidize a new teacher's salary. The programs would provide the military employee with a $5,000 stipend while obtaining a state teacher certification.

School districts could hire the outgoing service members only to supplement their teaching force, with an emphasis on specialists in mathematics and science.

Earlier, President Bush had announced a package of military-transition initiatives that also included funds to train new teachers.

Speaking to a group of veterans late last month in Phoenix, the President outlined a five-year, $1.1-billion package to go along with more than $7 billion already targeted for transition assistance over the next two years.

"Whether working as a teacher in an elementary school, or as an environmental engineer,'' Mr. Bush said, "I am committed to ensuring that the vast talents of former defense personnel can be put to productive use in life.

The President wants to spend $90 million through 1996 to help former military, civilian Defense Department, and defense-contract employees become teachers, particularly in math and science. The money would help prospective teachers become certified through alternative-certification programs.

Over the next three years, the Defense Department will cut the number of uniformed service members by more than 300,000. Efforts have focused on recruiting some of those people into teaching. (See Education Week, May 20, 1992.)

The President also called for:

  • Expanded G.I. Bill education benefits for military personnel with more than six years of service who leave voluntarily.
  • Additional aid to communities affected by base closings and other Defense Department reductions.
  • Career academies offering technical training, particularly to at-risk students in urban districts.
  • Job training and placement assistance for Defense Department civilian and contract employees. Such services are now available only for military personnel and their spouses.

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