J.B. Wogan
By J.B. Wogan November 13, 2012

New teacher service scholarships never came to be

As part of Barack Obama's education agenda during the 2008 campaign, he said he would create a new teacher service scholarship program.

The scholarships would cover the costs of four years in college or two years in a graduate-level teacher education program. In exchange, recipients would teach for at least four years in a "high-need field or location.”

But after extensive searching, we can find no evidence that such a program ever got established.

In our previous update, we noted that the federal government already had several programs in place that address the spirit of the promise -- providing financial assistance for aspiring teachers to finish their education so long as they teach afterwards in impoverished areas or low-performing schools.

For example, Teach for America, a national nonprofit that places recent college graduates in disadvantaged schools for two years, received about $18 million of federal money in 2010. We found an additional $52 million in awarded funds for expanding its teacher corps from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the economic stimulus.

The Education Department has its Troops-to-Teachers program, which recruits, trains and supports former military members as teachers in high-poverty schools; it received about $14 million in 2009 and again in 2010.

The department also has a Transition-to-Teaching program, which enables local schools and school districts to attract, prepare and support teachers to work in high-need schools and school districts; this received an annual average of $36.9 million in the past four years.

We also found a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grants program, which gives up to $4,000 a year to students finishing coursework necessary to become a teacher. Again, the grants are conditional on agreeing to teach for at least four academic calendar years (within the first eight after graduating) in a high-need field (such as math, science or foreign languages) at a school that serves students from low-income families. In the past three years, Congress has appropriated an average of $23.8 million per year for the program.

Our chart below shows how much these programs received in President George W. Bush's final two budgets (2008 and 2009) and Obama's first three budgets (2010-2012).

Although the Obama administration has been supportive of these programs and the overarching goal of employing more teachers for high-need areas, it isn't responsible for creating any of them. The administration has proposed a new presidential teaching fellows program  -- a downsized version of Obama's campaign promise -- in its last two budgets, but Congress hasn't given the program any money. Since Obama never fulfilled his vision for a new teacher service scholarship, we rate this a Promise Broken.

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 22, 2009

Administration boosts teacher recruitment, but not with scholarships

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location."
No program by this name was included in either the Education Department's fiscal 2010 budget request or in the final appropriations bill funding the department.
Other programs that received funding do address some of the same goals of attracting nontraditional teachers. Teach for America -- a nonprofit that places recent college graduates in disadvantaged schools for two years -- will receive $18 million in federal funds in fiscal year 2010, up $3 million from the president's request. (Teach for America did not receive any funds in fiscal year 2009.) Two other programs -- Troops-to-Teachers and Transition to Teaching -- will receive the same amount in 2010 as they did in 2009, at $14.4 million and $43.7 million, respectively.
But the administration failed to convince lawmakers to spend any money on a new National Teacher Recruitment Campaign, for which the administration had sought $30 million.

So the Obama administration has made some progress on the broad goal of improving recruitment of nontraditional teachers, with more money than the president requested. But it hasn't succeeded in creating the new national teacher scholarships that it described during the campaign. So we rate this promise Stalled.

Latest Fact-checks