The State of Florida is now allowing qualified military veterans to obtain 5-year temporary teaching certificates to serve as substitute teachers without having completed a college degree. The move comes as Florida works to find solutions to a statewide teacher shortage.
Effective July 1, Florida’s Military Veterans Certification Pathway program allows veterans who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degrees to teach in Florida classrooms using a temporary teaching certificate. To take part in the program, veterans must meet the following qualifications:
- Served at least four years in the US military
- Received an honorable discharge
- Earned at least 60 college credits
- Maintained a minimum 2.5 GPA
- Passed the Florida subject-area examination
Veterans will also be paired with a teacher who will serve as their mentor during the process.
During an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said dozens of veteran applications have already been submitted as of Friday.
“This is a great pathway for us to be able to have our veterans, in this veteran-friendly state, to step up to the plate,” he said, adding that “the structure and skills that [veterans] have will be valuable in the classroom.”
“This is important in our classrooms because we’re missing some of that with today’s younger generation,” he said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis praised the effort this week, arguing that veterans will make a valuable addition to Florida classrooms despite criticism from teachers unions.
“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.
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.
Elsewhere in the state, the Florida State Guard (FLSG) announced earlier this year that it is accepting applications for a newly re-established volunteer civilian force that “will assist in supporting state emergency response.”