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Pa. bill to ease teacher requirements for military, spouses

Greg Gross
  • The bill would speed up the teacher certificate application process for military members, vets and spouses
  • It would also limit their application fees to $35

Marie Hyson taught in Okinawa, Japan, and at a few places stateside while her husband served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

But after her husband retired and the couple moved to the Red Lion area, she found getting authorization to teach in Pennsylvania difficult despite her years of classroom experience and a background that includes college degrees in education.

The problem, she told Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-Windsor Township during a chance encounter, was that although she had a teaching certificate that's recognized in other states and by the U.S. Department of Defense, it wasn't accepted in her native Pennsylvania.

"I didn't think anything of it," Hyson said of her talk with Phillips-Hill. "I thought, this is how it's going to end."

But Phillips-Hill took the complaints and teamed up with Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, to introduce a measure, House Bill 2078, that would expedite the teacher certificate application process by the state Department of Education for members of the military, veterans and their spouses.

The bill: Teachers returning to Pennsylvania with inactive teaching licenses and those with out-of-state licenses often have to jump over unneeded hurdles in order to re-apply or apply for teacher certification in the Keystone State.

Currently 42 states expedite the review of teacher licenses for members of the military and their spouses, Phillips-Hill said during a Monday news conference at the Capitol building in Harrisburg.

The bipartisan bill also puts a limit on administrative fees paid to the state to a $25 professional discipline fee and a $10 certification fee.

"It lets them know we have their backs in Pennsylvania," Phillips-Hill said of the bill.

The bill was unanimously passed out of the House Education Committee on Monday.

New policy: As lawmakers work to move the bill through the legislative process, the Department of Education took matters into its own hands when it announced a new policy that does what the bill proposes to do.

Under the policy that took effect this month, applications for teacher certification from veterans, military members and their spouses will be sped up and a reduced fee will be imposed.

Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera credited Phillips-Hill with bringing the problem to his and the state's attention.

"We had no idea this was even an issue," he said.

Though the policy has been in place for a month, the bill would codify the new policy in law.

— Reach Greg Gross at or on Twitter at @ggrossyd.