Category: Connecticut

Cryopreserving Coral, Saving Oceans: Connecticut Scientist Gives Back to the Sea

December 8th, 2009 in Caroline Treadway, Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire

New London Day
Caroline Treadway
Boston University Washington News Service
Dec. 8, 2009

WASHINGTON—“Corals have been around for hundreds of millions of years, and we will potentially lose them in the next 25,” said Connecticut native Mary Hagedorn, one of the world’s leading marine biologists. “What’s even more frightening is that we could potentially lose every organism in our ocean.”

Hagedorn, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Institution for the past 16 years, has pioneered the science of cryopreserving, or freezing at very low temperature, applying human fertility techniques to coral. She’s spent years honing the freezing process for coral sperm, eggs, embryos and now polyps—the tiny beginnings of reefs—to save endangered coral.

Coral reefs serve many functions – they help protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide food for millions of people, support tourism and offer new cures for diseases, like the AIDS drug AZT, derived from a Caribbean sponge.

Hagedorn’s lab in Hawaii is the only one in the world dedicated to coral cryopreservation. With funding from the Smithsonian and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and in collaboration with the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology and SECORE (Sexual Coral Reproduction), an international organization of professional aquarists and scientists that is concerned about coral conservation, Hagedorn is racing to create frozen archives of live coral tissue before the endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn corals disappear.

The numbers of these two Caribbean reef-building corals have declined more than 90 percent since the mid-1980s. In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added them to its red list of endangered species.

“The only hope of maintaining coral is either in live culture or frozen in a repository,” Hagedorn said. “A lot of people, even scientists, don’t quite understand or believe the threat. But when you’re down in the Caribbean and you see these ecosystems collapsing in front of your eyes, it’s just so obvious.”

To cryopreserve coral, Hagedorn first exposes the tissue to a cryoprotectant, or antifreeze, that pushes water out of the cells by osmosis and prevents formation of damaging ice crystals. She can then safely freeze the cells in liquid nitrogen at minus 198 degrees Celsius. Such cold temperatures suspend all cellular life and enable her to store fragile genetic material indefinitely. Hagedorn later thaws the frozen coral tissue, fertilizes eggs and grows baby coral colonies, which can be shipped to zoos or used to restore reefs in the wild.

“It’s an insurance policy for the corals,” said Mike Henley, invertebrates keeper at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington. “If the corals all die off in the wild, we have the beginnings of a captive population in zoos and aquarias. If all those die off, Mary’s is preserved in perpetuity. It’s another backup plan. And at the rate they’re dying off, it’s not too soon.”

Hagedorn attributes her love of the ocean to spending summers on Long Island Sound in Old Saybrook as a child. “I don’t remember not ever loving the ocean,” she said.

Every summer her family drove from New Britain to Point Road on Cornfield Point, Old Saybrook. Hagedorn recalled spending every day in and around the Sound, swimming, playing, collecting crabs and mussel shells. “That was my inspiration for becoming a marine biologist,” she said.

Every day, Hagedorn would watch their neighbor, an old Scandinavian fisherman, cross their yard and head to the rocky point to catch stripers and bluefish after work. “He knew so much about fish and fishing,” Hagedorn said. She would watch him tie flies every night, and remembered once he even caught a shark. “He was very respectful,” she said. “He never caught more than he could eat, and if he did he gave it away.”

Today, Hagedorn has a new summer ritual. Every August, she goes Puerto Rico for the annual Elkhorn coral spawning. Four days past the full moon, at about 9:15 pm, Hagedorn, Henley and a team of international scientists dive into what Hagedorn described as an “underwater blizzard” to collect coral gametes for breeding and freezing.

“I feel very fortunate to have lived next to the ocean most of my life,” Hagedorn said. “It’s important to give back, and this is how I give back to the ocean.”

Hagedorn received a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in biology from Tufts University. She then attended the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and graduated with a doctorate in 1983. She did a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University from 1984 to 1986. For the last five years, Hagedorn has been in Hawaii, coming back to the Smithsonian every few months.

Henley described Hagedorn as a brilliant scientist who also has people skills. “She’s that mix of being extraordinarily intelligent but you can still connect with her, carry on a normal conversation and not feel intimidated,” he said.

Hagedorn started working on coral, she said, “because nobody had done any cryopreservation of coral at all and I saw it as a huge hole in our conservation need.”

In 1978, scientists witnessed a mass coral bleaching, she said. Large portions of reefs turned white and died. Coral bleach when their symbiotic partners, tiny photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae, die in response to environmental or thermal stress. Bleaching events continue, with the largest recorded in 2005.

Scientists cite many causes for declining coral reefs. Bottom trawling and dynamite fishing physically destroy reefs. Rivers carry pollution and sediment from deforestation, development and erosion to the ocean, choking reefs. And fertilizers in particular promote the growth of green algae that outcompete coral.

Hagedorn, Henley and other SECORE scientists like Dirk Petersen from the Netherlands’ Rotterdam Zoo agree that rising water temperatures and ocean acidification play a major role in reef decline.

The ocean becomes increasingly acidic as it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Calcium carbonate, the main component of coral and shells, dissolves in acidic environments.

“You know how your mother always told you not to drink soda because it ruins your teeth?” Hagedorn said. “It’s the carbonic acid in sodas that really does it, and that’s what’s happening in the oceans.”

Hagedorn joins scientists in a worldwide conservation effort to build frozen archives of genetic material to protect endangered species. At the National Zoo, for example, nearly every department freezes something, from milk and sperm to soil and coral.

“Right now my lab is about the only one in the world that’s working on the frozen aspect of coral conservation,” she said. “So I feel almost desperate because there is so much work to be done. We are working on pennies and nickels and dimes to do this.”

She added, “As we go into the future, hopefully this frozen material will never be needed. But if it is, it can stay frozen for hundreds of years.”


Wilton Student Gets to Witness Presidential Turkey Pardoning

November 25th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Katerina Voutsina

Norwalk Hour
Katerina Voutsina
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON – “Guess where I am going for Thanksgiving,” 10-year-old Riley Ann Wadehra of Wilton asked her classmates at Middlebrook School early Tuesday afternoon.

Riley’s plans included her grandparents but not their house. On Wednesday morning Riley was at the White House as one of 60 guests attending President Barack Obama’s first presidential turkey pardoning.

The event was better than expected, she said. “It was very relaxed. We were just five steps away from the President and it did not feel like we were so close to a president,” she said. “It was so casual.”

Wearing a purple dress, which she “picked for the occasion,” Riley entered the White House’s Southwest gate followed by her grandparents, Barbara and Tony Erena, and her uncle, Blake Thompson, all of High Falls, N.Y. They were guests of Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation.

The federation was responsible for delivering Courage, a 45-pound turkey from North Carolina, to the White House for the annual pardoning ceremony, which was first done by President George H.W. Bush.

Riley and her family waited for 20 minutes in the Main Foyer of the White House listening to live piano music and then joined the president and his daughters Sasha and Malia and the media under the North Portico for the ceremony.

“I’m told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys,” Obama said in his speech joking. “You can’t fault them for that; that’s a good-looking bird. Thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha – because I was planning to eat this sucker – Courage will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate.”

Immediately after the event, Riley said she got a chance to pat the turkey and take some pictures.

“Courage was very calm,” she said with a laugh.

Just in case Courage could not fulfill his duties, Walter Pelletier, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation, also brought Carolina as an alternate.

After the White House ceremony the birds were to fly first class to California where Courage will be grand marshal of the Disney Thanksgiving Day Parade. The turkeys will get to live out their days at Disneyland.

Riley, who kept asking her grandparents questions about the ceremony and the White House, said she “learned a lot today.”

After leaving the White House, Riley was anxious to call her mother, Jenn Wadehra, and have lunch and go sight-seeing with her grandparents.

“She was so excited that they got into the White House,” said Mrs. Wadehra in a phone interview.


Green Jobs Training Grants for Connecticut Announced

November 18th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Katerina Voutsina

Norwalk Hour
Katerina Voutsina
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON – Federal grants of $130,000 to create “green” jobs in Connecticut, including $60,000 for The WorkPlace Inc., a private non-profit in Bridgeport, were announced Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4.

The grants also include $4 million, authorized by this year’s stimulus law, for the Northeast Consortium—which Connecticut is a part of—for state labor market information improvement. The Northeast Consortium also includes Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

“The grant will allow this region to create an infrastructure to allow businesses and workers – who will employ, train or work in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy – to have access to reliable information to make career and employment choices,” Solis said during a conference call with Connecticut reporters.

WorkPlace Inc.’s goals are to help people prepare for careers and to strengthen the workforce for employers. Joseph M. Carbone, the group’s president and chief executive officer, said the Labor Department grant will allow the organization to coordinate construction job training and education to meet the needs of residents and employers in the 20 communities of the Valley-Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford region.

“This grant will enable us to build capacity in our region to offer opportunities in the green sector of the economy as a result of having the best trainers in the region that can respond as free markets develop opportunities in the green economy,” he added.

Carbone said the grant will pay for 20 students, 17- to 24 years-old, who are currently enrolled in the Youth Build project. It will also pay for the training of five local instructors by trainers from the Home Builders Institute.

This is an emerging and evolving sector of our economy, he said. “It is basically training people for where there are jobs.”

Himes, in the conference call with the Labor secretary, said, “This money comes at a really critical time. It is smart money, as much as it is also focused on developing the capacity in people to have the jobs of tomorrow. That is to say, green jobs.”

“It is important for Bridgeport because the unemployment rate is 12.1 percent,” Carbone said, adding that this is the official number and that “probably the real number is close to 18 percent. You are looking at a city that needs sort of an economic generator, like the green sector, to help us to transition people from being unemployed or underemployed into good, solid, high-wage jobs.”

Students in the training programs will learn and earn leadership in energy and environmental design, Solis said, expressing confidence that “successful completion of the program will qualify these graduates to enter apprenticeship programs in the Carpenters Union, Local 210, as a second-year apprentice.”

Jim Lohr, deputy director of that union’s labor-management program, which coordinates the Local 210 project for unemployed and underemployed 16- to 24-year-olds, said the unemployment rate in the area’s construction sector is now 20 to 25 percent.

“The timing couldn’t be better in terms of getting training in any job opportunities,” he said. “This is where we need the jobs.”

“Investments such as these in the workforce not only help to jump-start our economy but will lay the foundation for America’s long-term recovery,” Solis said. “The President and I strongly believe that green jobs will be a key driver behind America’s economic revitalization and sustain economic stability. At the Department of Labor, we are investing $500 million in projects that prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy industry.”

Carbone thanked Himes for helping obtain the grant. “If we needed an advocate to help us to develop this green economy in Bridgeport, you couldn’t have found any better person than Congressman Himes,” he said. “He has been with us every step of the way.”


Wait for H1N1 Vaccine Continues to Frustrate Congress

November 17th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Jeanne Amy

New London Day
Jeanne Amy
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers Tuesday pressed federal officials about the impediments to distributing H1N1 vaccine to those most at risk.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard from officials that vaccines are slowly catching up with the demand, but lawmakers said that there is still too much confusion surrounding who should be vaccinated.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the committee, called the hearing “on the backdrop of two crucial numbers going the wrong way – more flu deaths than previously realized and fewer vaccine doses than originally promised.”

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, had told the committee on Oct. 21 that there would be enough vaccine by early November for every American who needed to be vaccinated.

Connecticut was set to receive more than 500,000 doses by mid-October and has only seen a fraction of the targeted amount, according to the office of Gov. M. Jodi Rell. The vaccine was prioritized to go to children ages 2 to 4 and to health care workers and caregivers who work with children younger than 6 months old. The second tier of priority included pregnant women and persons under 18 with high-risk medical conditions.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nationwide 120 to 160 million doses could be supplied for the at-risk population. To date, 48.5 million doses are available for the states, according to center officials.

The delays were attributed to there being five companies supplying the vaccine, only one of which is in the United States, and to equipment failures. Employees of the Department of Health and Human Services are monitoring the situation, according to Dr. Nicole Lurie, the department’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response.

“What we heard pretty consistently was the need for flexibility for state and locals, let them decide whether to self-prioritize in a number of ways or go broader,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

While state and city officials were charged with distributing the vaccine from the beginning, Lieberman called for more federal involvement in directing the distribution of the vaccine.

“This is a national problem, and there was a focus on national alerts about this, so the fact that you gave the states some latitude didn’t really sink in nationally,” Lieberman said. “I think this is a case really where it would have been better to have a national answer.”


Lawmakers Propose Emergency Legislation for Paid Sick Days

November 10th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Jeanne Amy

New London Day
Jeanne Amy
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON—Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Tuesday that he will introduce emergency legislation to provide paid sick days to workers who  miss work because they or their family members have H1N1 or seasonal flu.

The legislation, to go into affect 15 days after being signed into law, would allow for seven paid sick days to be used at the employee’s discretion. It would apply only to businesses with 15 or more employees.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said at a hearing by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families, which Dodd chairs, that she has been working to obtain paid sick leave for the past five years.  In May, she reintroduced the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers to provide such leave.  Dodd co-sponsored an identical bill in the Senate in May.

“We work in the public sector, we go to the head of the line when we’re ill and probably when our families are ill,” DeLauro said of members of Congress. “We can take as much time as we want and there’s no one saying that your job isn’t going to be there, your salary isn’t going to be there or you can’t do it.”

DeLauro said that she hoped the Healthy Families Act would become law to “let us have a national policy that meets the needs of working families today” for the estimated 57 million American workers who do not have paid sick leave.

Dodd said of his narrower bill that the H1N1 flu pandemic poses new threats to the work force.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that a person with H1N1 flu will, on average, infect 10 percent of his or her co-workers.  An official of the agency testified at the hearing that an infected worker may need to stay home for three to five days.

Desiree Rosado of Groton said she personally understands the need for paid sick days. Rosado, a mother of three young children, testified that when all three contracted flu this fall, she had to take two weeks off from her job as a special-education assistant for theGroton public schools to care for them.

“It is a hard road, and it’s made a lot harder because whenever we get sick or when our children get sick we have to decide whether to stay home without pay or to disregard doctor’s orders and risk getting sicker and infecting others by going to work or school,” Rosado said.


World War II Veterans Visit Their Memorial in Washington

November 7th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Jeanne Amy

New London Day
Jeanne Amy
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON – It was a tearful hero’s welcome for 102 World War II veterans from New England, many from southeastern Connecticut, who arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Saturday morning.

Two water cannons flowed full blast as their airplane rolled underneath the ceremonial water arch and a brass quintet played. Scores of people waiting in the terminal began clapping in time.

The members of the “Greatest Generation” walked or, with the help of a volunteer guardian, were wheeled into the terminal. The veterans, who were here to see the National World War II Memorial, made their way through the crowd, thanking those who turned out to greet them. But with every handshake or kiss on the cheek, those waiting repeated, “Thank you for your service.”

The trip was made possible by American Warrior, a Norwich-based nonprofit. The group’s founder, State Rep. Christopher Coutu, R-47th, said that in four trips more than 425 veterans have seen the memorial in the last two years. The memorial, between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, was dedicated in 2004 to honor the 16 million men and women who served in the military during World War II.

As the veterans filed off the plane, Coutu said, “I think, actually I know, in many ways this is their final wish in life to see their memorial.”

The day-trip is free of charge to the veterans. Dozens of guardians travel with the group at their own expense, eager to push wheel chairs and listen to stories about their assigned veteran’s time in the service.

American Warrior must raise $40,000 to fund each trip, Coutu said. The group’s goal is to take at least two trips each year.

“It’s recognizing us where the government didn’t recognize us 60-some-odd years ago,” said Eddie Insalaco of Willimantic.

“I’ll tell you, I was so impressed with the reception we got here, I could go home right now, I almost cried,” the former Army staff sergeant said.

Insalaco, 85, was serving as a translator in Italy when he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war. He was able to escape, he said, and was helped by an Italian family who fed him. He had not eaten in 30 days.

“Two numbers I won’t forget – my military number and I was 118 pounds, I was losing at least a pound a day,” he said.

Insalaco said he has just started to talk about his experiences in the war and has given several lectures to school groups.

One trip volunteer, Rich Buzon of Stonington, has been on every American Warrior trip. The trip is always an emotional experience for him and quite a respite from his job as a chemist at Pfizer, he said.

“Time is the enemy, we’re trying to beat time,” he said about bringing veterans to the memorial. Each day more than a thousand World War II veterans die.

Jack Hogan, who was a petty officer third class in the Navy during the war, is quick to crack a joke or sing a song. Hogan was born in 1928 in New London, was stationed there during the war and still lives there. During the war he made eight dives each day teaching servicemen how to operate submarines.

In a coat and tie, Hogan approached the day in Washington with a smile. He said he is grateful for having served the country. Hogan was a high school drop-out, but was able to go to Mitchell College after the war.

Hogan said his brother, who also served in the war and now lives in New York, has not been to the memorial.

“My brother was the real hero of the family, shot down in Germany, prisoner of war and all that stuff,” he said.

Insalaco, as he was sitting at the memorial, said making the trip to Washington has given him a new take on life. “I love it – it makes me want to keep going,” he said.


Himes: Mixed Message From Elections

November 5th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Katerina Voutsina

Norwalk Hour
Katerina Voutsina
Boston University Washington News Service

WASJHINGTON—Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, said Thursday that local elections this week showed that the Republican Party is clearly re-energized and that Democrats have adopted a “wait and see” attitude on the election results.

“The most important factor in local elections is always the local candidates and the local campaigns,” Himes said. “But I would also say that this created a tailwind for Republican candidates around Connecticut.”

Asked whether Washington politics affected this year’s races, Himes said that Republican Dick Moccia was reelected as mayor because citizens of Norwalk approve of his performance in office, not because of his opinion on Afghanistan.

“I was sent to Washington by my constituents to help restore the economy, to help health reform get done, to make progress in education,” Himes said. “A year from now, when I stand for election, I think the voters will judge me on those things.”

On the national level, Himes said, the message from Tuesday’s elections was mixed.

He noted that a Democrat was elected to the House from New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which he described as “hardcore Republican.” He said, “There are lessons for both parties that came out of this race.”

On health-care reform, Himes said, “I am not a very good political commentator, but I have a very good feeling about health care. I held 60 meetings in town halls attended by thousands of people, and it is clear to me that the substantial majority wants to see health care reformed.”

He added that he is confident that the majority of his constituents support health-care reform.

“I am pleased by the engagement of my constituents, even those who were opposed to it; I was thrilled that they came forward with their concerns.”


Ocean Zoning is on the Horizon for the Government Agencies

November 4th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Jeanne Amy

New London Day
Jeanne Amy
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON—Federal officials told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday that they are developing a framework for cooperative use of the oceans that would bring the United States one step closer to a new national policy to address American stewardship of the oceans.

The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which President Obama established in June, submitted an interim report in September that called for a new interagency National Ocean Council and supplied the government with a list of priorities in using the oceans, the nation’s coastline and the Great Lakes.

One priority is to set rules for coastal and marine spatial planning, which many officials refer to as ocean zoning.

The task force is now focusing its efforts on creating a framework for zoning that would coordinate decision making by the various users of the oceans, including energy producers, the shipping business, recreational and commercial fishers and aquaculture interests, said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, during a hearing by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Subcommittee members questioned a panel of agency officials on what the policy will be and which agency will implement it.

Officials said that leadership across agencies, accountability, visibility and access were all important to implementing their proposal.

“I don’t believe that any single agency can fully execute all of the qualities that I just articulated as being required,” said Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But her agency, she added, “has the scientific expertise and the ocean and coastal management experience to be an important leader in the process.”

Adm. Thad Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard, testified that streamlining government agencies would be helpful in moving ahead with ocean zoning.

“The Coast Guard is always going to be a supporting player, not a lead on this, but we are looking for the ability to go to a single point in government to merge the policy issues and frankly ultimately make very, very difficult resource decisions on how we’re going to proceed with implementation,” Allen said.

The task force will release another report addressing ocean zoning in the next few months and allow 30 days for public comment.


Himes Insert for Wire Story on House Health Care Bill

October 29th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Katerina Voutsina

Norwalk Hour
Katerina Voutsina
Boston University Washington News Service


Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, said the House bill significantly improves security and provides affordable health care choices to Americans. However, Himes said that the bill does not do enough to create incentives for Americans to become healthier.

“I support a public option that operates on a level playing field with insurance companies to increase competition and reduce costs in the health care system,” said Himes. “The public option in the new version of the health care bill meets those criteria.”

Himes said that the new bill is not going to add to the deficit but would reduce it. According to a Congressional Budget Office report the bill is estimated to reduce the deficit by $30 billion over first 10 years, Himes said.

He also said whether to include coverage for abortion is going to be debated. “Historically federal dollars have not been used to pay for abortion,” Himes said and he added that this principle probably won’t change.

Himes speculated that the bill could pass the House next week


Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., could not be reached for comment. But Marshall Wittmann, the senator’s communications director, said Lieberman welcomes the debate and “hopes that Congress can adopt reform legislation that will lower costs, expand access and improve the economy.”


Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., could not be reached for a statement.

Sen. McCain, Rep. Courtney Propose Enhancement for Troops to Teachers Program

October 27th, 2009 in Connecticut, Fall 2009 Newswire, Jeanne Amy

New London Day
Jeanne Amy
Boston University Washington News Service

WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, proposed Tuesday to expand a program that enables former members of the military to become teachers in high-need school districts.

Since 1994, the Troops to Teachers program has helped military retirees or persons who left the military with six or more years of service receive certification and become teachers in school districts identified as high need. The bill offered on Tuesday would decrease the number of service days required to qualify for the program and increase the number of former members of the military who could qualify for financial assistance to receive certification.

It would also create a cross-agency advisory board to promote awareness of and significantly increase funds for the program.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate and Courtney is introducing it in the House. During a press conference Tuesday, McCain said he believes the bill will have few opponents.

“It’s been a very successful program, there’s no doubt about that, but unfortunately it hasn’t been as successful as it can be because of the glitches that were unanticipated, such as eligibility and time and service in the military,” McCain said.

The legislation would cut the required six years or more of continuous active-duty service to four years and also make eligible any member of the military who has served at least 90 days of continuous active duty since September 11, 2001.

The proposed bill would do for Troops to Teachers what the post-9/11 G.I. Bill amendments did for the G.I. Bill, Courtney said.

“There is no more public-spirited or idealistic group of Americans” than service men and women, Courtney said. “I think they will bring a thoughtful, broadminded view of the world that no college or university could ever teach to people who are training to be teachers or professors.”

The Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act would authorize $50 million annually for the next five years. The program is currently authorized at $30 million annually, but the Department of Education usually allocates about $15 million for Troops to Teachers each year.