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Facing 10K Drop In Licenses, Lawmakers Focus On Wooing Potential Teachers

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Fewer people are signing up to become teachers in Indiana. The number of new licenses dropped over 10,000 in three school years.  Hoping to combat the trend, lawmakers are focusing on two new actions taking aim at this problem.

The first attempt to increase the teaching force in Indiana comes from the legislature, which kicked off its 2016 session this week. House Speaker Brian Bosma says he will file a bill that creates a new program, called the Next Generation Hoosier Educator Scholarship.

This scholarship would give up to $7,500 a year to an Indiana high school student graduating in the top 20 percent of their class. To qualify, students must commit to earning a teaching degree and teaching in an Indiana classroom for five years after graduation.

Details on funding the program aren’t established, and Bosma says it could come from outside sources or during next year’s budget session.

"We wanted the framework in place even if the funding was not this year," Bosma says. "Both students and our education schools can begin preparing."

In the second action taken this week, the Commission For Higher Education awarded $9 million in grants to institutions committed to recruiting and training teachers in science, technology, engineering and math subjects.

This grant program is new and Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers says her agency will track the groups’ receiving funds to ensure they are using the fund to benefit teachers.

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