Tester’s Native American Education Bill Endorsed by Senate Committee

Senator’s Legislation will Recruit and Retain More Quality Teachers in Indian Country

(U.S. Senate) – The Senate Indian Affairs Committee today unanimously passed Senator Jon Tester’s bill to recruit and retain more quality teachers in Indian Country.

Tester’s Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act will provide new scholarships, federal student loan forgiveness, and professional development opportunities to prospective and existing educators who are either Native American or who commit to teaching at schools that serve a high population of Native American students.

“We can improve schools and student success with more quality teachers in Indian Country,” Tester said. “This bill will help attract the best and brightest teachers to classrooms in tribal communities and it will strengthen Native American schools and help ensure that every student reaches their potential and has the tools to succeed.”

The number of unfilled full-time teaching positions at Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools has doubled since 2010, and in 2015 one out of every eleven BIE classrooms lacked a permanent teacher.

Tester’s NEST Act establishes multiple incentive programs for Native American educators and educators who work in schools serving a high percentage of Native American students.

The NEST Act establishes scholarships for students to earn their bachelor or graduate degrees in education or school administration, creates student loan forgiveness plans that will forgive federal student loans for these educators who commit to at least five years of service, and covers the cost of National Board Certification and an accompanying $5,000 – $10,000 salary increase.

Congressman Raul Ruiz (CA-36) will introduce Tester’s NEST Act next week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the Senate, Tester’s NEST Act is now awaiting a final vote on the Senate Floor.