Veterans holding books – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Africa Studio
The Sunshine State currently has 9,000 teacher vacancies that must be filled before the summer comes to a close and the new 2022 academic year begins. Last week, Florida’s Department of Education announced that military veterans can now fill those empty roles.
“Our public schools are really at a crisis level seeing this massive number of vacancies,” Andrew Spar, Florida Education Association president, told ABC Action News. “In 2010, there were 8,000 graduates from Florida’s colleges and universities becoming teachers. That number was between 2,000 and 3,000 for the year that just ended. That’s a significant drop-off.”
Veterans will now have the opportunity to use a five-year voucher that allows them to teach in classrooms without the necessary education requirements or typical accreditation that other certified teachers must possess.
The decision is part of an $8.6 million statewide initiative to produce workforce training and careers for veterans and their families.
“We owe the freedoms we enjoy as Americans to our military veterans, and I am focused on ensuring Florida is the best state in the nation for those who have served to find great jobs, start or grow businesses and support their families,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement. “Business is booming in Florida, and employers are looking for the leadership skills, training, and teamwork military veterans bring to the workforce.”
Currently, the state’s Department of Education expects veteran candidates who lack degrees seeking teaching positions to have a minimum of 60 college credits and a baseline 2.5 GPA. In addition, they must pass the subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects.
Their service must amount to at least 48 months in the military with a medical or honorable discharge. They are required to be supervised by an experienced teaching mentor if hired by a school.
Local unions and teachers, on the other hand, feel this move will lower Florida schools’ standard of education.
“You can’t just throw a warm body in a classroom, that’s not the answer,” Barry Dubin, president of the Sarasota County Teachers Association, told the Herald Tribune.
While the shortage is distressing, the move to use veterans as a stop-gap measure has teachers confused about the state’s criteria for educators.
“There are many people who have gone through many hoops and hurdles to obtain a proper teaching certificate,” Carmen Ward, president of the Alachua County teachers union, said. “(Educators) are very dismayed that now someone with just a high school education can pass the test and can easily get a five-year temporary certificate.”
Are you interested in Florida education? For stories like this and much more: Florida Insider is dedicated to educating, entertaining and informing its readers about everything Florida. Easy to read content at the palm of your hands and covering the stories that matter.