Any time we catch wind of a truly bipartisan effort in politics, we think it is important to highlight and recognize it. Politics, after all, should revolve around the compromises attained by people who have otherwise differing points of view on the world around them for the betterment of society.
A recent example of bipartisan efforts within the Rhode Island General Assembly stems from the efforts of two Democrats and two Republicans within the House of Representatives who worked together to revive a federal program that helps simplify the process for military veterans to become certified to become teachers in our schools.
The bill was introduced by Warwick Representative Camille Vella-Wilkinson and was supported by co-sponsorships from Patricia Serpa, also a Democrat representing Warwick, and Republican Reps. Robert Lancia of Cranston and Robert Nardolillo of Coventry. Lancia and Vella-Wilkinson are both veterans of the United States Navy.
Essentially the bill seeks to rekindle the flames of the federal Troops to Teachers program, which was first enacted in the early 90s to make it so that veterans who had already undergone relevant training in the military – such as team leading – didn’t need to re-complete similar training to earn their teaching certifications. There would be additional resources made available to assist in the transition from military to civilian life as well.
The Department of Education would oversee the program in the state, and reportedly will be happy to do so. Their staff recalls being in contact with the federal government about the program around 2011, but nothing moved forward. Now there will be another chance to enact the program and get it done correctly.
While there is certainly a difference between a military officer leading a group of soldiers in simulated or actual military combat exercises and a teacher instructing a group of children through a math lesson, there are actually more similarities than you may first recognize.
Soldiers are trained to be able to perform under extremely stressful conditions, they are trained to exercise extreme attention to detail, they are trained to be punctual to the minute, accept responsibility for themselves and others charged under their command, to carry out their duties with great care and precision and to never give up.
Basically, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone more cut out to deal with the difficulties of being a teacher than a member of the United States military. In addition to their training, members of the armed forces must be willing to work with and implicitly trust others with their lives; regardless of skin color, religion, upbringing, or even their political beliefs.
This breeds an innate ability to collaborate with anybody and relate to others despite maybe not having much in common with them. They are trained to be the best teammates in the world, as their lives could one day literally depend on it when they’re in the service. Teamwork is an innate requirement of teachers, as they should be willing to work with their students, colleagues and administrators to deliver the best possible education to kids.
Military veterans who wish to go into teaching also stand to be great role models to kids, as they have the opportunity to pass along elements of their experience to kids who perhaps have never known a veteran. This provides an excellence chance for a sharing of experience that benefits all.
As we just celebrated the birth of our nation, which was only created and sustained to this point due to the battles waged by members of the country’s armed forces – from colonial patriots to the most elite modern special forces – it is important to recognize those who not only lead by example through their military service, but now lead by example through collaborative politics to implement beneficial policies.
We applaud the efforts of Vella-Wilkinson and Lancia to continue to work together on such legislation, as this isn’t the first time their names have appeared on legislation together. We don’t anticipate it will be the last time either.