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Bill advances that would give college scholarships to children of Oklahoma teachers

Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla.

Lawmakers are considering another initiative to incentivize teachers to stay in Oklahoma classrooms that would allow teachers’ children to be eligible for the state’s tuition scholarship program.

House Bill 3454 by Rep. Anthony Moore (R-Clinton) would make children of certain teachers eligible for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program, commonly known as OHLAP or “Oklahoma’s Promise.”

Oklahoma’s Promise provides a tuition scholarship to an Oklahoma higher education institution for students with financial need or whose parents in the military have died in the line of duty. Students must apply during grades eight through 11, and it pays for up to 129 semester credit hours over a five-year eligibility period unless the degree program requires more hours.

The bill would extend OHLAP eligibility to children of currently employed certified classroom teachers who have worked as one at an Oklahoma public school district for at least 10 years. Teaching years do not need to be consecutive.

“Number one, it would help recruit teachers, obviously,” Moore said at a Monday House Education Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee meeting. “Number two, it would help retain teachers. Number three, it would help retain college students. And then number four, on the backend, we know that if students go to school here, they’re 87% more likely to live, work and raise a family here. So the fourth bonus is workforce development.”

In an email to StateImpact, Moore said teachers would need to remain employed throughout their child’s enrollment at the higher education institution, and his intent for the program’s qualifications is that teachers should be at least at the 10-year mark by the time their student becomes a college freshman.

The bill passed the House Education Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee unanimously and now heads to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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