On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly called on veterans to join Florida’s new veteran teaching program, which allows veterans who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degrees to teach in Florida classrooms using a temporary teaching certificate.
“Calling all veterans! Florida wants you to teach in our classrooms,” DeSantis tweeted, along with an advertisement explaining how veterans can qualify for the program. To participate, veterans must have served at least four years in the US military and been honorably or medically discharged, earned at least 60 college credits, and passed the Florida subject-area examination.
Last week, DeSantis announced the launch of a new webpage designed to streamline recruitment for the program.
“Florida is the most veteran- and military-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We also know that our veterans have talents and skills that they can offer our students. This new opportunity expands Florida’s existing programs that help our veterans take their talents to our schools, and it will help Florida remain a national leader in education.”
Veterans who qualify will be paired with a teacher who will serve as their mentor throughout the process.
“With the skills and experience that our 1.7 million veterans bring to Florida’s workforce, this new pathway to teaching will positively impact Florida’s students,” Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said in a statement. “Veterans and servicemembers can now work toward their full professional certificate while imparting their unique knowledge and valuable experience in the classroom.”
The Florida Senate’s Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement said the program will help both veterans and schools.
“The potential availability of additional educators, especially as Florida faces a teacher shortage in certain regions and in specific instructional subject matters could provide district school board with enhanced options and expanded personnel choices,” it read.
“Experienced military leaders who have mentored and educated military service members for years may have skills and experiences that can translate easily to the classroom and would be a ready-made workforce for Florida’s public and charter schools and could address short and long-term workforce needs,” the statement added.
Earlier this month, DeSantis slammed the teachers’ unions who have criticized the program.
“You’ve got some people in the media and elsewhere that are criticizing this. You had the head of the teachers union in Sarasota criticizing it, saying ‘well, you just can’t throw any warm body in the classroom.’ Well, I’ll tell you something: people that have served our country are not just some ‘warm body.’ They have a lot to offer our communities,” DeSantis said.
“And you give me somebody that has four years of experience as a Devil Dog over somebody that has four years of experience at Shoehorn U. and I will take the Marine every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” he added.