ATLANTA — Georgia state senators are agreeing with Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to encourage more military veterans to become teachers and to change what teachers learn in college.
The Senate voted 50-0 to approve Senate Bill 88 on Wednesday, sending it to the House for more debate.
A separate proposal by Kemp to allow some retired Georgia teachers to return to work and collect both a full salary and a full pension is unlikely to become law until next year, pending a study of the financial effects it would have on Georgia’s Teachers Retirement System.
The plan would require aspiring teachers to learn to teach reading in a way that builds up literacy by sounding out letters and words and decoding words based on spelling. Many experts say that’s a more effective approach than other methods of reading instruction, but some educators have resisted.
It would also mandate that colleges of education instruct aspiring teachers on differentiated instruction, saying different teaching approaches may be needed for different students such as English language learners, gifted students, or students with learning disabilities.
Military veterans would be prioritized for teacher instruction, would be eligible for a three-year provisional certificate, and would get a three-year boost up the state’s salary ladder. The bill also calls for programs to increase the numbers of teacher graduating from historically black colleges, but without specifics.
The bill says teachers who rate highly under the state’s teacher evaluation system should be exempt from additional in-classroom education, with administrators using that additional time to mentor teachers rated as “needs development” or “ineffective.”
The measure would also place Georgia’s teacher of the year on the state Board of Education as a nonvoting member.