Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks at a news conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 where the Republican governor proposed that some retired teachers return to work on full pay. Kemp also plans to do more to recruit teachers from the military and historically black colleges. (AP Photo / Jeff Amy)

Photo credit: Jeff Amy

Photo credit: Jeff Amy

Currently, retired teachers can receive a pension while they return to work in the classroom. However, state law limits them to part-time hours. Kemp’s proposal would remove the 49% time limit and allow retirees to work full-time in regions of the state with acute shortages.

The legislation would also facilitate alternative teacher cards for military veterans, oblige school districts to apply rules that allow them to spend less time on job reviews, the time saved on mentoring teachers, and the State Teacher of the Year than Establish advisors to the Governor’s State Education Board, work with colleges to improve teacher education, and work with historically black colleges and universities to attract more black college students to teacher prep programs.

There was no estimated cost for the legislative package. Senate and House leaders predicted it would happen to both houses.

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The two largest interest groups for teachers, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators, accepted the measures.

“It is a difficult time being an educator, and we applaud Governor Kemp’s efforts to improve the Georgia teacher pipeline,” said Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative services at PAGE.

Kemp did not answer questions about his proposals, and his office did not have copies of the pending legislation.

Buster Evans, who heads the state pension system for teachers, said he hadn’t seen the actual bills, but he didn’t expect them to cost the state pension system anything. Retired teachers returning to full-time work would have to make their normal contribution to the pension system so they would not offset payments from non-retirees who may have been hired in their place, he said.

The teacher shortage was an acute problem during the pandemic, but Stephen Pruitt, executive director of the Southern Regional Education Board, said it was a long-term problem as well. In rural areas in particular, there has long been a shortage of subjects such as math, science and special education. But Pruitt, whose group advises Georgia and 15 other states, said some states are starting to have vacancies in elementary schools.

The profession has been under the microscope for years, and with the respect for the subject area, the number of young people who have decided on a career has also decreased. In 2018, Georgia teacher training schools saw 3,800 graduates, according to Pruitt, a decrease of nearly a third from 5,400 five years ago.

Pruitt called Kemp’s proposals “a very clear and obvious intention to raise the profile of the profession.” He said more such efforts will be needed in the future to restore morale and promote recruitment and retention.