Rep. Bob Dettmer sees pay provision for teachers in uniform signed into law
by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Veterans, teachers’ pay, the U.S. Army as educational force — these were themes running through the State Capitol earlier this week.
At a bill signing ceremony for the K-12 bill, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, and others spoke of a provision in the bill changing a state law that had military veterans on active duty essentially paying for a substitute to take over their class.
Dettmer, a retired teacher who served 20 months on active duty after 9/11 in the U.S. Army Reserve, has been aware of the twist in law for some time.
“So I started working on this a couple of years ago,” he said.
Eventually, Dettmer settled on language written by the Department of Military Affairs in pursuing the change.
He also became aware of a situation with Matt Reuter, a teacher in the Winona School District who served with the Air Force Reserve in Afghanistan in 2011, who run up against the twist in law.
In Reuter’s situation, the teacher/soldier needed to fork over $11,000 to the school district to pay a substitute teacher.
Under the old law, the pay for deployed teachers making less in the military than at teaching was available to them less the cost of hiring a substitute teacher.
Because of this. a deployed teacher could lose teacher pay.
The new law better assures that teachers in uniform receive the salary owed to them once returned from deployment.
In another military matter, Lt. Col John Hinck of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command and Dr. Susan Larson of the U.S. Army spoke to the Senate Education Committee about the military services as educational force.
Currently, only four out of ten young people, Hinck explained, are deemed fit for military service.
He considers the statistic a national security issue.
The three biggest reasons for disqualification are physically unfitness, poor academic success, a history of bad personal decisions, Hinck explained.
Hinck spoke of the Army’s efforts as promoting fitness physical fitness, such as through health expos.
And he also pointed to First Lady Michelle Obama’s fitness initiative aimed at eliminating childhood obesity.
According to the White House, one in three American children are overweight or obese, a problem costing the country about $150 billion a year in treating obesity-related illness.