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The Daily Tar Heel

Act Could Lure New Teachers

The Teaching Fellows Act, which Price plans to propose to the House on Thursday, aims to provide students with an incentive to enter teaching. The program would use North Carolina's Teaching Fellows Program as a model for other states.

Price held a press conference to announce the act at empty Carter-Finley Stadium to demonstrate that North Carolina will need to hire 80,000 teachers during the next 10 years.

"If we filled Carter-Finley Stadium and the Entertainment and Sports Arena with new teachers, North Carolina still would need to hire another 6,000 teachers to meet our need of 80,000 teachers over the next 10 years," Price said.

The N.C. Teaching Fellows program is a state-funded initiative that currently provides $8 million to N.C. college students who attend in-state institutions.

Price cited estimates predicting that the United States will need 2.2 to 2.5 million new teachers during the next decade, making the lack of teachers a national as well as a state issue.

The act would provide an estimated $300 million to states that create scholarships of at least $6,500 for students who wish to become teachers.

Participants will be required to teach in one of the state's public schools for three to four years after graduating.

States wishing to be part of the Teaching Fellows Act would apply for a portion of the $300 million and provide a 25 percent match to the amount received.

The Teaching Fellows Act includes two programs, the Teaching Fellows Program for high school seniors and the Teaching Fellows Partnership Program.

The Teaching Fellows Partnership Program will encourage teaching assistants already in the field and community college students to continue their education and receive a four-year teaching degree.

Of the estimated $300 million for both programs, the fellows program is expected to receive $200 million while the partnership program will receive $100 million.

Price added that teachers must be cultivated from unexpected places. "There are people working as teacher assistants who are great candidates to get a four-year education degree and teach," he said. "I am looking everywhere to find solutions to the teacher shortage crunch, and our community colleges are a great place to start."

After he finds co-sponsors for the Teaching Fellows Act, Price said he will propose it to Congress. And he said he expects it to receive bipartisan support.

Price said Washington politicians have not yet adequately addressed the issue of a teacher shortage. "I think we will have (bipartisan) support," he said. "(But) I frankly don't think either party has done enough to address this issue, and I am going to push both teacher quantity and quality to the top of the agenda."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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