New licensing option makes sense

In our highly mobile society, the ease with which teaching professionals can move from state to state is made more complicated by licensing requirements. The spouses of veterans and active duty military personnel are among those who encounter this problem most often because careers in the armed forces entail frequent moves as duty stations change.

That’s why Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are working hard to make Iowa a more attractive venue for teachers wedded to military personnel and veterans who want to teach in Iowa. In mid-February they announced a new Hawkeye State effort to eliminate licensing barriers for qualified veterans and military spouses. A military exchange license has been created for veterans and military spouses by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. This new licensing option enables these individuals to teach for up to three years without taking any additional college courses. According to information provided by the governor’s office, in the past about 70 percent of out-of-state residents who applied for teaching licenses in Iowa have had to take additional coursework to meet the state’s licensure standards. That can result in a delay in becoming licensed here. The new license also has a reduced cost.

“This was the right thing to do,” Branstad said in a statement released by his office Feb. 13. “These are standout citizens who are defending our freedoms or are supporting family members who are defending our freedoms. I’m pleased the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners has removed this barrier that causes military families to seek a new licensure in the state of Iowa.”

This change is in sync with the Branstad administration’s Home Base Iowa Initiative launched in 2013 to recruit veterans for jobs in Iowa. That public-private partnership seeks to match military veterans with jobs Iowa employers need to fill. Former U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell and Bob Myers, chief executive officer of Casey’s General Stores are the co-chairs of that nonpartisan effort.

“Through their service, veterans have already proven they share the values we hold dear as Iowans – hard work, leadership and patriotism, among others,” Branstad said when he announced that program’s launch. “We’ll be calling upon the business community to partner with Home Base Iowa to help us meet our goals of increasing employment in this state, decreasing veterans’ unemployment and recruiting high-quality individuals to Iowa.”

The Messenger applauds the governor’s commitment to making Iowa an especially attractive home base for military personnel, veterans and their spouses. The commitment these patriotic Americans have already shown to public service makes them especially attractive additions to our communities and work force. Additionally, the flexibility the new licensure option provides is an excellent response to an increasingly mobile national work force. It is an example that should be considered by other state licensing boards.