Oklahoma Governor Stitt signs Rep. McBride’s ‘Inspired to Teach Scholarship Program’ changes into law

Oklahoma City – State Representative Mark McBride, R-Moore, celebrated Governor Kevin Stitt‘s signature enacting a law a bill aimed at increasing the number of students pursuing a teaching degree.

McBridge wrote the legislation adjusting scholarship eligibility requirements.

House Bill 2559 renames the Oklahoma Future Teacher Scholarship and Employment Incentive Program to the “Inspired to Teach” Program.

In addition to Oklahoma high school graduates, the bill allows scholarship applicants to include homeschooled students as well as those who have completed General Educational Development (GED) test requirements.

The bill also modifies the definition of a full-time student in the hopes of making the scholarship available to more prospective teachers.

“We are doing everything possible to address the teacher shortage that is affecting Oklahoma public schools as it is those across the nation,” McBride asserted.

“Having a qualified teacher in the classroom is the best way to ensure students succeed in school and once they graduate. These scholarships will help us attract more future teachers, which in turn will benefit our students and our communities.”

McBride advanced through the Legislature the initial future teacher scholarship bill last year.

Since that time, almost 2,000 students have applied for those scholarships, with 23 educator preparation programs in the state reporting a 53.28% increase in enrollments from fall 2022 to spring 2023.

To the extent funds are available, the legislation grants up to $1,000 per academic year for up to three years for full-time students who have earned less than 90 credit hours in an Oklahoma teacher preparation degree program and $2,500 scholarships for students with more than 90 credit hours until a maximum of $5,500 is reached.

Senator Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, was the Senate author of the 2022 legislation creating the scholarship program, and also carried H.B. 2559 this session in the Senate, further expanding the program.

“We’re thrilled with how successful this program has been in its first year of attracting more students to pursue a teaching degree, and we want to keep that momentum going,” Pemberton said.

“We want to help every student who has the desire to teach to have that opportunity, and expanding this scholarship will help us accomplish that and get more teachers into our classrooms.”

Under the new legislation, full-time students are those enrolled in 12 or more semester credits toward teacher education degree requirements; undergraduate students who are interning or student teaching in lieu of credit hours; or those who have an approved reasonable accommodation due to a documented disability.

McBride said in a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK.com that it is his hope more funding will be added to the scholarship program through the general appropriation bill for Fiscal Year 2024, which starts July 1.

Note: This report is adapted from a legislative staff press release. CapitolBeatOK.com is an independent, non-partisan and locally-managed news service that was founded in 2009.