Money > Complicated Loan Forgiveness Programs

California Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing to revive a teacher loan forgiveness program. Here’s a brief description of the proposal via EdSource:

The college loan repayment program would provide up to $20,000 to an estimated 4,500 newly credentialed teachers who commit to teaching at least four years in high-demand fields in districts having the hardest time hiring credentialed teachers. Newsom suggested the program would make inroads in reducing the 6,000 to 8,000 emergency, uncredentialed teachers who have been hired annually to fill California classrooms.

Spot how many rules are buried into this paragraph? Candidates must:

  • Be newly credentialed teachers
  • Have loans
  • Teach in high-demand subjects
  • Teach in districts struggling to staff their schools
  • Verify said teaching for four years

Prior versions of this program required four consecutive years of teaching, and the loan forgiveness was all-or-nothing.

There are simpler, fairer ways to address teacher shortage areas. For example, a Georgia program offering supplemental pay for math and science teachers had large positive effects on retention. When Florida offered a combination of loan forgiveness and direct bonuses, both components seemed to have an effect on retention, but the direct bonuses were more cost-effective.

Instead of a convoluted loan forgiveness program, California should just send the money directly to teachers. Money should be paid out annually, not as some sort of promise if teachers complete all the requisite paperwork. Not only would this be more fair and simple for teachers, it also might just work better.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman