Proposed bill would forgive student loan debt for some STEM teachers

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 5:59 PM EST
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State Representative Derek Lewis, who represents Kentucky District 90, proposed a bill that would forgive student loan debt for STEM teachers in federally designated promise areas. This includes several counties in Eastern Kentucky.

"Whether it's a science class, a math class, we have to make sure students have the foundational knowledge they need," explained Lewis.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Lewis hopes the incentive will encourage people to pursue careers in education.

"It's my hope that we can use this legislation, and use it as a model statewide to address a teacher shortage," said Lewis.

One principal agrees forgiving student loan debt would help current and future educators, considering they have to go through advanced levels of education.

"When a teacher knows they're going to have loan forgiveness, that gives them better attitudes, they're more likely to want to go into it," said Michelle Ritchie, the principal of Perry County Central High School.

Representative Lewis said the challenge will be finding funding for the bill.

"I talked to several legislators about this bill. They love it, they love the idea. But, again, the critical thing is to make sure the funding is there," he explained.

Lewis added he plans to make an amendment to forgive student loans for special education teachers as well. He will present the bill to the House Education Committee, and if passed, it will go to a vote on the House floor.