One of the best ideas moving through this winter’s session of the Indiana Legislature carries the stamp of two local lawmakers.
State Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, wrote Senate Bill 331, which sets up incentives for military veterans to become teachers.
Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola, is sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.
The bill passed with overwhelming support — by unanimous vote in the House — and appears nearly certain to become law.
SB 331 creates a program known as Second Service for Veterans. It would require each Indiana higher educational institution to provide academic and career counseling for veterans studying to become teachers.
Schools would have to actively recruit veterans to pursue teaching degrees and offer them scholarships. Out-of-state students who enter the program would qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Appropriate military training and experience would earn credits toward an education degree.
“We think it’s a win all the way around,” Glick said recently about the bill. Veterans get solid careers, universities get motivated students, Indiana gets more teachers to solve a looming shortage.
Zent served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. In a recent interview with thestatehousefile.com, he explained why he supports SB 331.
Veterans often have gained maturity beyond their years, which can make them ideal teachers, Zent said.
“They don’t just have a small view, they’ve usually been someplace and done some things. I think it would be hugely beneficial for the students that they are going to be teaching later on, also,” Zent said.
Zent noted that the teaching profession, like others, is beginning to see a mass exodus of people who began their careers 30-40 years ago.
“Baby Boomers, which I’m one, are getting to the point, we’re going to see that in the teaching profession, they’re going to start retiring. Huge numbers. When they are retiring, how are we going to backfill on that?” Zent said about the future of teaching.