Teacher certification changes, loan assistance authorized

Lawmakers approved a bill April 13 intended to address a shortage of teachers in Nebraska schools.

LB1218, introduced by the Education Committee, provides $1,000 in loan forgiveness to student teachers under the Attracting Excellence to Teaching Program. An individual must provide service for a full academic semester within a public or private school and meet certain requirements to qualify.

The bill also allows a teacher from another state to demonstrate eligibility for a Nebraska teaching certificate or permit if they possess a similar certificate or permit in that state.

Additionally, the State Board of Education now must authorize the issuance of a permit or certificate to an applicant who has been offered employment to teach, administer or provide special services by a public, private, denominational or parochial school in Nebraska.

Under the bill’s provisions, the board may not require a statewide examination as an entrance requirement related to basic skills competency when approving Nebraska teacher education programs.

LB1218 also contains provisions of LB945, introduced by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, which authorize the state Department of Education to provide qualifying teachers $5,000 per year in loan repayment assistance for up to five years.

To qualify, an individual must be a Nebraska resident teaching full time at a public or private school or performing dual-credit instructional duties for public or private school students while employed full time at a public or private nonprofit college or university in Nebraska.

The total amount of loan repayment assistance may not exceed $5 million in any fiscal year.

LB1218 passed on a vote of 46-0.

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