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Nebraska changes rule for military spouse educators

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts addresses the media, March 19, 2018, at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska after signing a change to Rule 21, which regulates state teaching licenses,which will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts addresses the media, March 19, 2018, at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska after signing a change to Rule 21, which regulates state teaching licenses,which will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Shannon Manion, a certified teacher and veteran school administrator as well as the spouse of Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, addresses the media as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Matt Blomstedt, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education, look on at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska on March 19, 2018. According to the governor, manion was instrumental in changing Rule 21 which regulates state teaching licenses and will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Shannon Manion, a certified teacher and veteran school administrator as well as the spouse of Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, addresses the media as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Matt Blomstedt, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education, look on at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska on March 19, 2018. According to the governor, manion was instrumental in changing Rule 21 which regulates state teaching licenses and will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signs a change to Rule 21, which regulates state teaching licenses, as Shannon Manion, a certified teacher and veteran school administrator as well as the spouse of Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, looks on at the Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln, nebraska on March 19, 2018. Manion, along with other Offutt-based military spouses, were invited to witness the governor sign the rule change will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signs a change to Rule 21, which regulates state teaching licenses, as Shannon Manion, a certified teacher and veteran school administrator as well as the spouse of Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, looks on at the Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln, nebraska on March 19, 2018. Manion, along with other Offutt-based military spouses, were invited to witness the governor sign the rule change will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Julie Copley, spouse of Rear Adm. Curt Copley, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Navy Element Commander and Director of Intelligence, discusses issues and challenges facing military spouses with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts March 19, 2018, at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska. Copley was on-hand, along with other Offutt-based military spouses, to witness the governor sign a rule change which will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Julie Copley, spouse of Rear Adm. Curt Copley, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Navy Element Commander and Director of Intelligence, discusses issues and challenges facing military spouses with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts March 19, 2018, at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska. Copley was on-hand, along with other Offutt-based military spouses, to witness the governor sign a rule change which will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The governor of Nebraska signed a rule change March 19, championed by one of Offutt’s own, which will make it easier for military spouses to teach immediately if they have recently arrived from out of state.

Gov. Pete Ricketts approved the change to Rule 21, which regulates state teaching licenses, in a ceremony held at the state capitol and attended by Shannon Manion; Matt Blomstedt, commissioner of the Nebraska Department of Education, Offutt-based spouses; and news media.

Manion is a certified teacher and veteran school administrator as well as the spouse of Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander.

"It is overwhelming how grateful the spouses feel for being enabled to get a job immediately when we move here," she said. “There is a saying in the Air Force: ‘We recruit Airmen, but we retain families.’ “The number one reason service members leave the service is for their family. The spouses and children are required to face too many hardships.”

Hopefully, this will alleviate one of those hardships, she said.

Under the old process, teachers moving to Offutt were required to obtain a provisional certificate while actively working toward a full-time Nebraska teaching certificate. Sometimes, the process could take up to four years and was incompatible with a military lifestyle, which oftentimes requires moving.

Manion learned, firsthand, how cumbersome the old process was when her family received orders to Nebraska in 2017.

“When I learned we were moving to Offutt, I immediately went to the website of the Nebraska Department of Education and felt overwhelmed with the requirements; so I made the decision not to work as an educator,” Manion said.

After her arrival in June, Manion met with Nebraska legislators and discussed issues facing educators which, in turn, led to a meeting with the Nebraska Department of Education.

“In preparation for my meeting, I called a teacher forum, so that I could draw on more experiences than just my own,” Manion said. “Michelle Pridell, Offutt school liaison officer, helped me set up the meeting, which was attended by area teachers and the heads of the human resources departments for the Bellevue and Papillion-area districts.”

In November, Manion met with Department of Education leaders and came away with an agreement to pursue an improvement to Rule 21.

“On January 25, I attended a public hearing and spoke on behalf of military spouses about how the revision would positively impact us,” Manion said.

A week later, the Nebraska Board of Education passed the change, setting up the governor’s signing it this past week.

According to Ricketts, the previous process was a barrier to employment and will not only help support military families, but also connect Nebraska’s students with high-quality teachers.

"We want to make sure families that serve in the military, who sacrifice so much for us, know how much we appreciate them and make it easy on them when they have to make moves," Ricketts said.

According to Blomstedt, Nebraska’s lead educator, the districts in the immediate vicinity of Offutt will see the most benefit, but there may be opportunities that arise outside of the immediate area of the base.

"This is a chance to take advantage of the global-types of experiences military spouses bring to the classroom and it allows us to create opportunities for students that otherwise wouldn't be there," Blomstedt said.