By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis is encouraging veterans interested in teaching at Florida public schools to consider applying through a new program.
“Florida is leading the way by bringing some of the best, the brightest and the bravest among us into our classrooms through a new program that helps military veterans become teachers,” he said in a video announcement Thursday. “If you served in the military for at least four years, were honorably discharged, have taken 60 college credits,and passed a subject area exam, we want you to be able to teach Florida students.
“Our veterans have a wealth of knowledge and experience they can bring to bear in the classroom, and with this innovative approach they will be able to do so for five years with a temporary certification as they work toward their degree.”
Qualified military veterans can learn more and fldoe.org/veterans.
“For too long, the requirements to be a teacher have been too rigid with union bosses insisting that educators get certain credentials that often have little impact on teaching performance,” Gov. DeSantis said. “Every morning our students recite the Pledge of Allegiance while looking at the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s fitting that the teacher in the classroom is somebody who took an oath and put his or her life on the line to preserve, protect and defend our flag and the freedom it represents.
“From Devil Dogs to Salty Dogs to Dough Boys to Fly Boys, we respect our veterans and know they have a lot to offer.”
The program was made possible through a bill the state legislature unanimously passed and DeSantis signed into law earlier this year.
On Aug. 17, the State Board of Education will consider a rule to formally implement the program established by the law. It will enable veterans to receive a five-year temporary education certificate while they finish their bachelor’s degree, provided they meet certain criteria.
“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. “Veterans and servicemembers can now work toward their full professional certificate while imparting their unique knowledge and valuable experience in the classroom.”
Veterans who successfully obtain their five-year temporary teaching certificate will be assigned a mentor teacher for a minimum of two years to provide them with classroom and other support. Once they obtain the temporary certificate, they must earn their bachelor’s degree during the five-year period to receive a full professional certificate and can’t teach subject areas that require a master’s degree.
The temporary certificate can’t be renewed once it expires and doesn’t apply to military spouses or families.
In addition to meeting certification criteria for a temporary certificate, applicants must also meet the following standards: They must have a minimum of 48 months of military service with an honorable/medical discharge; a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average; have a passing score on a Florida subject area examination; be employed in a Florida school district, including charter schools; and clear a background check.
Qualified candidates are also encouraged to complete an online Military Certification Fees Waiver prior to applying. The fee waiver can be used for initial certification applications and initial teacher certification examinations.