Ohio Senate Bill Looks to Address Teacher Shortage by Employing Veterans

A new bill in the Ohio Senate, Senate Bill 361, aims to address the current teacher shortage by allowing veterans to become teachers without having a background in education provided they pass a particular set of criteria set forth in the bill.

State Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction) sponsored the bill, which allows a veteran to become an educator by completing four years of service, being honorably discharged, or receiving a medical separation.

“This bill’s overall goal is to get civilians to recognize military qualifications,” Hoagland told The Ohio Star.

Army Reserve Veteran Nate Fahy thinks that the bill could have a positive impact for employment in service members.

“If the candidate feels they have the skills needed to help fill the role then I think it would be fine,” Fahy told The Star. “In a way, it would be like taking on a job that says they require a degree but in some instances, real-world experience can be a replacement and sometimes better value.”

Outside of the four years of service, an honorable discharge, or medical separation from the armed forces, according to the bill, veterans have additional options for teaching eligibility. These include earning a Master Training Specialist certification from the U.S. Navy, having served as a training officer or lead instructor in the armed forces, or serving as a non-commissioned officer, a warrant officer, or a senior enlisted person, or by having a reference letter from a former commanding officer that says the veteran has the qualifications to teach.

The current requirements for Ohio teachers according to education.gov are to complete an approved teachers preparation program, earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, college, or university, pass a content area exam and a professional knowledge exam, and pass a criminal background check.

“Since the start of the pandemic Ohio relaxed teacher licensure. If you have a four-year degree you can teach in the state of Ohio as long as the school district wants to hire you. I believe that sunsets at the end of this year. The state of Ohio as a whole is trying to make teaching more accessible to individuals to enter that field,” Hoagland said.

Some teachers, such as Cheryl Paul, a certified secondary science teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience, have concerns about the logistics of this bill.

“I believe some non-certified adults would make very good teachers. This bill will not distinguish those individuals. It also dis-incentivizes new teachers from pursuing proper education and training to prepare for a teaching profession because it is a large financial commitment that would no longer be required of them,” Paul told The Star; adding, “I would love to see steps to make getting the education needed to be a qualified teacher accessible to all, including low-income, veterans, and those with other challenges to give all with a heart to mentor our youth a chance to achieve their goals,”

If the bill becomes law, school districts will get to choose if they will implement it or not within their district.

“I think with anything you are always going to have skeptics. This is a permissive bill it allows school districts to hire these individuals it does not force school districts to hire these individuals,” Hoagland said.

The bill also requires an individual to have demonstrated mastery of the subject area to be taught as determined by the school governing authority, and have obtained at least 60 college credits with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA from an accredited school.

“I think that in a couple of ways it’s going to be beneficial,” Hoagland said. “It will possibly bring veterans to Ohio who I feel would be good role models to students.”

Hoagland noted that the measure, SB361, on Florida’s Senate Bill 896, which took effect on July 1. The proposed legislation was then adjusted to fit within the Ohio code.

Senator Hoagland said that the goal is to get the bill through the Ohio General Assembly by the end of the year.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]



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