Principals Groups Applaud Introduction of Loan Forgiveness Bill in the House

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Loan Forgiveness Bill Would Incent Great School Leaders to Work in High-Needs Schools, Principals Groups Say

Statement from the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), representing the nation’s nearly 100,000 principals:

We applaud the House, specifically Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), for introducing the Recruiting and Retaining Effective School Leaders Act, which will encourage prospective school leaders to enter the profession, incent the strongest school leaders to work in the nation’s highest-needs school districts, and reduce principal turnover. This legislation is a crucial step toward providing a consistent culture of learning and school improvement to students who need it the most.

Specifically, the bill would provide loan forgiveness over a seven-year period to elementary, middle, and high school principals who work in schools where at least 30 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Under this program, principals who graduate from high-quality preparation programs would receive loan forgiveness at a rate of 15 percent for the first four years and 20 percent for the remaining three years.

The current soaring principal turnover rate leaves low-income districts in an unstable cycle that harms vulnerable students the most. A preponderance of evidence confirms that it takes at least five years for a principal’s improvement efforts to take effect in schools––but these efforts are drastically hindered by continuous principal turnover. The Retaining Effective School Leaders Act is a concrete step toward removing that obstacle and retaining principals long enough to see their school improvement efforts come to fruition.

Becoming a school administrator requires an undergraduate and in most cases requires a graduate degree, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Instead of incurring debt, many prospective school leaders pursue less daunting professions, with higher salaries, and with a lower cost of entry.

Once principals are in place, attrition rates are high: 25,000 principals leave their schools each year and close to 50 percent of new principals leave during their third year in the profession. In New York State, schools paying below the mean salary for principals are almost 10 times more likely to lose their principal to another school than schools paying above the mean salary. With an average cost of $75,000 for developing, hiring, and onboarding a new principal, school districts spend millions of dollars annually to replace principals who have left the profession or transitioned to more affluent school districts.

Now is the time to revitalize the school leadership profession by enhancing the principal pipeline and significantly reducing annual turnover. Join AFSA, NAESP, and NASSP in calling for the passage of the Recruiting and Retaining Effective School Leaders Act.

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Read more about the principal loan forgiveness bill here