Veterans could receive scholarships and college credits for their military experience if they pursue K-12 teaching under a proposal backed by state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Sen. Susan Glick of LaGrange.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced Monday that she'll back legislation to create a veterans-to-teachers program. Photo by Tim Grimes, TheStatehouseFile.com
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced Monday that she’ll back legislation to create a veterans-to-teachers program. File photo by Tim Grimes, TheStatehouseFile.com
The proposal – which would expand the Combat to College program that Glick pushed into law earlier this year – would be called Second Service.
“I want to ensure that the men and women who have served our country as airmen, Marines, sailors and soldiers have an opportunity to serve our state, and ultimately, our nation, as educators,” Ritz said in a statement early Monday.
“The Second Service incentive program would offer financial assistance and college credits to any post 9-11 veteran who has a strong desire to continue serving Hoosiers in the classroom,” she said.
Ritz planned to detail that proposal – and announce a new reading program that partners Indiana National Guard members with elementary schools – during Veterans Day stops at Holland Elementary in Fort Wayne and at St Mary’s College in South Bend.
The new literacy program is called Boots for Books and is part of the state’s larger Hoosier Family of Readers initiative. The National Guard will work with more than 263 literacy partners, according to the superintendent’s office.
“Boots for Books will give Indiana National Guard soldiers the opportunity to work with students in 30 schools and 30 after-school programs across Indiana to ensure students are reading by third grade,” she said.
Glick, a Republican, and Ritz, a Democrat, plan to introduce the Second Service legislation during the 2014 session, which begins in January. It would fund two- and four-year scholarships and translate military training and experience into college credits meant to help veterans earn K-12 education degrees from Indiana universities. Participants would be required to teach in an Indiana school for one year after graduation.
“Veterans have the skills, experiences and work ethic needed to manage a classroom,” Ritz said. “They understand what it means to serve their community, and I can’t think of a group of individuals who are as dedicated to the mission of service as veterans.”
The existing Combat to College program passed the legislature last spring. It requires state colleges and universities with at least 200 veteran students to establish a central location to provide them with help in admissions, registration and financial administration. The schools are also required to accommodate disabled veterans and assist all veterans with academic guidance and counseling.
Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.