ERIC Identifier: ED370937
Publication Date: 1994-06-00
Author: Taylor, Tracy A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
New to the Ranks: Moving from the Military into Teaching. ERIC
Since the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s, the U. S. Department of
Defense has trimmed about half a million civilian and uniformed employees
(Ricks, 1994). As military bases continue to close over the next few years,
thousands more service personnel will be released from active duty. The majority
of these workers will not be eligible for full retirement, and will need to
pursue second careers in the private sector. As companies also restructure and
downsize, former defense personnel may find limited opportunities among
corporate employers. Instead, displaced service personnel may discover a demand
for their technical skills and supervisory experience from a different source:
elementary and secondary schools seeking qualified teachers, teachers' aides,
and other support staff. The Department of Defense is sponsoring a program
called "Troops to Teachers" to help workers affected by defense cutbacks pursue
new careers as teachers and teachers' aides. The program extends financial
assistance to military personnel so they can obtain required teaching
credentials, and also provides partial salary subsidies to enable qualified
school districts to subsequently hire these individuals.
During 1994, the Troops to Teachers program will offer stipends up to $5,000
to allow approximately 2,500 recipients to enroll in teacher education or
alternative certification programs nationwide (Taylor, 1994). This digest
describes the details of the Troops to Teachers program and discusses the
conversion of military personnel to school employees.
TRANSITION TO TEACHING
While some teachers in the classroom
have had previous military experience, the current drawdown of armed forces is
focusing attention on teaching as a second career. Several reasons explain why
teaching has become a more attractive option to servicemen and women being
forced out of their military occupations.
*Many defense personnel are well educated in fields like mathematics,
science, and foreign languages that often experience shortages of qualified
classroom teachers. In addition, former service personnel have managerial and
organizational skills to oversee classrooms and maintain discipline (Celis,
*A substantial proportion of military personnel is from minority groups that
are underrepresented in the teaching profession. Schools are interested in
hiring such candidates to diversify their teaching staffs and give role models
to students, particularly those who are of color or disadvantaged (Ryan, 1994).
*Education reform efforts in recent years have heightened the prestige of the
teaching profession, by expanding teacher authority, promoting professionalism,
and increasing compensation (Nyjordet, 1991).
*In training new recruits for combat, service personnel already have
experience instructing and mentoring young people. Some veterans may view
teaching as a way to continue serving their country, by building the skills and
self-esteem of children affected by violence, poverty, and illiteracy (Nyjordet,
1991; Ryan, 1994).
*By comparison, teaching may offer former military personnel more job
security than other prospects in the private sector. Companies that once hired
many veterans--such as defense contractors and airlines--are streamlining their
operations and eliminating production of defense materiel. The sheer number and
frequency of defense personnel cuts--estimated at 11,000 per month (Ricks,
1994)--may overwhelm local job markets, particularly those depressed by closing
military bases and stagnating local economies.
Though military personnel are highly trained, many of them are ineligible to
teach in public schools because they lack appropriate certification and
preparation as classroom instructors. The Troops to Teachers program aims to
help former military personnel bridge this gap, by assisting them in becoming
certified and employed as teachers and teachers' aides.
The Department of Defense has long supported educational opportunities for
service personnel; in 1987 it issued a directive (Number 1322.8) that
facilitates operation of voluntary education programs by each branch of the
armed forces, assisting all service members to attain their personal
educational, career, and vocational goals (Anderson, 1991). The 1987 directive
also described the function of the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional
Educational Support (DANTES) to support programs offered through various
educational institutions. DANTES (based in Pensacola, Florida) is the managing
agency for Troops to Teachers.
TROOPS TO TEACHERS
The Troops to Teachers program was
created by Congress in 1992, through the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 1993 (Public Law 102-484). Title XLIV, Subtitle D of this law
authorizes the Secretary of Defense to assist eligible members of the armed
forces after their separation from active duty to obtain (A) certification or
licensure as elementary or secondary school teachers or (B) the credentials
necessary to serve as teachers' aides; and...facilitate the employment of such
members by local educational agencies...experiencing a shortage of teachers or
teachers' aides. (U.S. Congress, 1992) To obtain these credentials as quickly as
possible, Troops to Teachers steers participants to alternative certification
programs, particularly those that award credit for military service or
education. Servicemen and women with at least six years of continuous active
duty, and displaced civilian employees from the Departments of Defense and
Energy, may apply for a $5,000 stipend for the costs of teacher licensure or
teacher's aide preparation. Recipients seeking teacher certification must have a
bachelor's degree or higher when they apply for the stipend, while those
interested in teacher's aide courses must hold at least an associate's degree
(Taylor, 1994). Nondegreed service personnel who earn baccalaureates within 5
years after their discharge may qualify for future Troops to Teachers stipends
(U.S. Congress, 1993).
All participants in Troops to Teachers must agree to acquire necessary
credentials within 2 years of their separation from the military, and then
accept full-time employment for 5 consecutive years in schools that receive
federal Chapter 1 grants for compensatory education programs under the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Recipients of Troops to Teachers
stipends who do not obtain required credentials within 2 years of their
separation, or who do not work 5 years in eligible schools, may be required to
reimburse funds to the Department of Defense.
To encourage schools to hire Troops to Teachers participants, the Department
of Defense will provide incentive grants to local education agencies that (A)
are receiving grants under chapter 1 of title I of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act of 1965...and (B) are also experiencing a shortage of qualified
teachers, in particular a shortage of science, mathematics, or engineering
teachers...and a shortage of teachers' aides. (U.S. Congress, 1992)
Placement grants fund part of the salary that former service peronnel earn as
teachers and aides over their 5-year employment terms, according to the
following breakdown (U.S. Congress, 1993):
of Employmment, Salary Proportion, Maximum Amount:
year, 50 percent, $25,000
year, 40 percent, $10,000
year, 30 percent, $ 7,500
year, 20 percent, $ 5,000
year, 10 percent, $ 2,500
Should a teacher or aide leave a district before his/her 5-year term is
completed, the Department of Defense may require the school to pay back part of
the incentive grant. Moreover, grants will not be issued to schools that
terminate or displace other employees to create vacancies for Troops to Teachers
participants. In 1994, the program plans to award 1,200 grants to place teachers
and teacher aides in qualified schools (Taylor, 1994).
The Troops to Teachers program was appropriated
$65 million in FY 1993 to issue stipends and grants for 2 years (Taylor, 1994).
The program is authorized to operate until October 1, 1997, though
appropriations for fiscal years 1995-1997 are uncertain.
If funding for Troops to Teachers is continued, the program will undoubtedly
accelerate the presence of former defense personnel in the nation's classrooms.
Yet the potential impact of the program is difficult to predict. Currently,
there is no national database that tracks the number of teachers who once served
in the military (Celis, 1992), and only limited anecdotal evidence that their
transition from the armed forces to the teaching force has been successful.
Perhaps the best evaluation of the conversion of troops into teachers lies in
the comment of a former Navy captain, as he summarized his first year as a
6th-grade teacher: "I enjoy teaching, but I was not prepared for how tough it
is" (Celis, 1992).
References identified with an ED number
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Anderson, C. L. (1992). Educational resources available for transition of
servicemembers. In N. Stacey (Ed.), Military cutbacks and the expanding role of
education: Proceedings of a conference (May 1991) (pp. 49-80). Washington, DC:
Office of Educational Research and Improvement. ED 351 535
Celis, W. (1992, April 8). More military retirees going into classrooms. The
New York Times, A 23.
Nyjordet, S. (1991, July). Teaching as a new career for military personnel.
Washington, DC: Bureau of Naval Personnel. ED 341 680
Ricks, T. E. (1994, March 30). New military retirees turn bitter as many
can't find a good job. The Wall Street Journal, A1 and A7.
Ryan, M. (1994, January 30). When warriors become teachers. Parade Magazine,
Taylor, T. A. (1994, February) Troops to teachers: guidelines for teacher
educators. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges for Teacher
Education. SP 035 028
U.S. Congress, 102d Congress, 2nd session. (1992). National defense
authorization act for fiscal year 1993. P.L. 102-484. Washington, DC: Author.
U.S. Congress, 103d Congress, 1st session. (1993). National defense
authorization act for fiscal year 1994. P.L. 102-160. Washington, DC: Author.