Gov. Pete Wilson signed a new state law Tuesday that gives retired teachers a chance to return to the classroom and beefs up funding for a program that encourages people to make teaching a second career.
The law allows retired teachers to go back to the classroom for three years without losing their retirement benefits, and provides an additional $4.5 million for the district intern program.
The intern program allows adults who meet certain criteria to become teachers without undergoing traditional teacher training.
The measure, sponsored by Assembly members Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) and Kerri Mazzoni (D-San Rafael), is intended to augment the ranks of experienced teachers needed because of class-size reduction efforts in kindergarten through the third grade.
The measure passed the Senate earlier this month by a 31-2 vote. It cleared the Assembly last month on a 75-1 vote.
“There are plenty of talented men and women both ready and able to immediately step into the classroom and help shape a young and curious mind,” Wilson said. “What they don’t have are all of the credentials mandated by an education bureaucracy that slows down and even blocks the speedy entry of these fine people into the classroom.”
One such intern, retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Phil Sanborn, joked that he was looking forward to spending time in the “tranquil setting of the classroom.”
Sanborn, a teacher intern in the Elk Grove Unified School District outside Sacramento, said he has received much support, including assistance from a mentor teacher who monitors and critiques his performance.
Entrants into the program must have a bachelor’s degree, pass a state teacher certification examination and a test of their knowledge of the subject matter, and undergo 120 hours of training.
Elk Grove Superintendent David Gordon called it “an exciting time in education.”
The changes in retirement policy allow teachers who retired on or before July 1 to return to teaching for a maximum of three years without losing retirement pay. Previously, the teachers could earn no more than $17,500 a year teaching without jeopardizing their benefits.