Helping Our Military Spouses Help Teach Our Children

My campaign recently provided the following story to some of our local press, in regards to my conversations with some of our local educators, many of whom whose skills and talents are being misdirected, or in cases like this, wastefully neglected. And I’m finding this sadly most common among some of our military personal serving here at Wright-Patterson AFB.

For me, supporting the military, at the state level, means supporting the needs and capabilities of the *entire* family of our service personnel. Though the state does not have jurisdiction over the military, we *do* have the ability to help provide for the needs of these families, and especially when the fulfillment of those needs benefit all of us here, especially our children and their education.

No story better spotlights this truth than that of Bri McKinnon and her family. When I’m in the Statehouse, she and those like her will know that I’m there to help change this situation. I want to help make it possible for them to not only secure employment to supplement their family income, but to help make it possible for them to fulfill their calling of service to others as well. This is what supporting our service personnel is really about.

Kim McCarthy, candidate for State Representative in Ohio District 73, met with military spouses in effort to assist overcoming ‘red tape’ to help family financial burden

“Sorry, there is nothing I can do for you.”

This is what Bri McKinnon, wife of 2nd Lieutenant Monte McKinnon at WPAFB, has heard more times than she can count.

McKinnon, 26, is a teacher nearing her completion of a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Washington University. Her resume and experience are stellar, but her desire to teach special-needs children goes well beyond her educational background.

“I am on fire for Special Education. I do not say that lightly. I am ON FIRE. The thought that I could have the ability to influence, protect, guide, and love someone into being the best possible versions of themselves speaks to my heart. I have a passion for Title Schools because kids in these type of districts generally need the most help,” said McKinnon.

In fact, McKinnon said that the Fairborn School District basically hired her on the spot when she applied there, as they were trying to fill ten open positions for special education teachers.

One teensy little problem: McKinnon found out that in order to get the job she would have to take a lengthy college class and state exams that together cost in excess of $3,000.

The time involved, plus the fees for exams, meant for McKinnon that neither time nor money was on her side. Military families often live a life of moving base-to-base, state-to-state. That transience, complicated by limited income (many families use federal food stamps to make ends meet*), makes gaining temporary employment unrealistic, even if one is extremely qualified and motivated.

Kim McCarthy, candidate for State Representative in Ohio District 73, recently met with McKinnon and several other military spouses from WPAFB, in an outreach initiative to various groups in her district, in order to hear directly from her prospective constituents about their specific needs. Help with employment red tape was at the top of their list. McCarthy recorded their concerns and said, “Ohio should be offering military spouses an exemption from Ohio’s standard requirements, so long as they can prove that they have the qualifications from another state to do the job.”

McCarthy said if she is elected she will work toward an amicable agreement that both keeps our education system filled with the best possible teachers while considering the needs of military spouses and helps to work toward the better good of Ohio students.

McKinnon made it clear she is not looking for special treatment. Rather, she wants an affordable vetting system that addresses the specific needs of military spouses that equals that of permanent Ohio residents. She used the state of California, her family’s next likely move, as an example. “We literally have to take a free quiz about California to show we know some relevant information about the state and pay $50 and we get a license.”

“I am absolutely devastated at what military wives have to go through. We are being punished for serving our country,” said McKinnon about Ohio’s laws. “I am more than willing to jump 110% into (a school district that has vacancies for special-ed teachers).

McCarthy vowed to address the employment red tape for military spouses if elected State Representative for Ohio District 73. “Our children are suffering and not getting the education they need in order to be successful, while dedicated and passionate teachers are sitting at home because of red tape. This needs to change, and I plan to make it a priority if I’m elected.”