DOE releases spring 2019 application for teachers to take tuition-free college courses

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Education and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today released the application for the BESE Tuition Program for Teachers, a competitive program that provides funding for selected teachers who enroll in courses at regionally accredited colleges or universities in Louisiana. Teachers selected to participate in this round will have their tuition for courses offered in Spring 2019 paid by the state.

All teachers, particularly those who teach in rural or low-performing school systems or who seek a higher degree, are encouraged to apply, but the highest priority will be given to applicants who want to take science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) coursework to ultimately gain certification to teach those subjects.

Louisiana has a shortage of educators trained to teach STEM coursework. Statewide, according to the latest educator workforce report, 12 percent of all math courses and 13 percent of all science courses are taught by educators who are not certified in those subject areas.

“Louisiana strives to make STEM education available to all students to help build a workforce and a citizenry fluent in future technologies,” said State Superintendent John White. “To do this, we must fully prepare teachers with every opportunity to further their own education.”

Teachers who are selected to participate in the program and who are pursuing coursework to support their teaching of STEM will join a cadre of educators called STEM Fellows who work with the Department and the LaSTEM Advisory Council to further STEM initiatives across the state.

“Louisiana educators play a pivotal role in ensuring all students have access to state-of-the-art STEM experiences in order to prepare for the economy of tomorrow,” said State Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), author of the legislation creating the statewide LaSTEM Advisory Council. “This program and the STEM Fellows initiative are important steps forward for Louisiana.”

The program, supported by state and federal dollars, made available at least 21 seats for the 2018-2019 school year. The submission deadline for Spring 2019 is Nov. 9, 2018.