Oklahoma offers loan payback as an incentive for doctors to come to rural areas. Now, the state House has passed a bill to establish a similar program for teachers.
Rep. John Waldron said with enrollment in the state’s teacher training programs down 40%, lawmakers must do something to attract the next generation of teachers. House Bill 3382 would let teachers apply for $4,000 in loan repayment for every five years of employment at an Oklahoma school.
Rep. Tom Gann was among those concerned about how recipients would spend the money.
"Have you given any consideration about this loan repayment program going to pay off the bicycles or the other things that somebody might have not been able to have good discretion in their spending on?" Gann said.
"They could spend them on bicycles, refrigerators and other things. My fear is that they’re going to spend that money elsewhere in professions other than teaching," Waldron said.
Waldron also responded to opponents’ concerns about how his proposal will affect state finances.
"There’s an important fiscal impact when we turn teaching from a career into a gig, and that’s that districts have to spend millions of dollars each year recruiting, training and replacing emergency-certified teachers," Waldron said.
HB3382 passed 85–3.