Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson was at Scott Air Force Base recently, which was a great opportunity to show her the importance of the base to our nation’s defense and this community’s deep support for its military.
She shared some concerns that should be important to us, and that state leaders can help fix.
After discussing the pilot shortage and retention efforts, she talked about the importance of quality schools to our highly educated service members. She said Air Force personnel are four times as likely to hold college degrees as the surrounding community, so they expect the best educations for their children.
That also explains the urgency when Scott leaders raised the issue of public school credits transferring between states for those military dependents. Illinois state lawmakers got on the problem and fixed it.
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So they should be listening again now.
Wilson said military spouses with a professional license — teachers, certified public accountants, nurses, nail technicians — sometimes must wait a year to regain their licenses when their spouses are stationed in a new state. It’s not quite as bad here in Illinois, but some professions are worse than others.
Teachers have more than a five-month wait for any license or change, and that includes the special license for military spouses and dependents who transfer here. The bottleneck is at the Illinois State Board of Education, and potential fixes will require state legislation.
So if you support the local military, here’s something to do other than to pick up a lunch tab for service members. Get their partners back to work by letting your state lawmaker know this is an issue much more worthy of attention than most of those 600-plus bills they just dropped on the governor’s desk.