Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is actively encouraging veterans to become schoolteachers in his state. The next phase of the Educator Certification Pathways for Veterans program DeSantis announced on August 11th features a new official website, where veterans can learn if they qualify for the program.
The initiative puts into action Florida SB 896, which started within the Florida legislature in January 2022. The bill, which passed the Florida House and Senate unanimously — you know, those cretins who, according to the Associated Press, hate “those” kind of people? — is officially summarized as follows.
The bill provides an alternative pathway for veterans seeking subject area certification by removing the requirement for a baccalaureate degree for issuance of their temporary educator certificate if certain requirements are met.
To qualify for a temporary certificate under this pathway, the applicant must:
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- File an affidavit in which the applicant subscribes to and agrees to uphold the principles of the state and federal Constitutions;
- Submit to criminal background screening;
- Competent and capable of performing the duties, functions, and responsibilities of an educator; and
- Demonstrates mastery of the subject matter pursuant to state board rule.
The exception for a bachelor’s degree under this provision applies only to subject area specializations that require a bachelor’s degree for issuance of a temporary certificate. To qualify for the exception, the applicant, must in addition to the qualifications above, also document:
- Completion of at least 48 months of active duty military service with an honorable discharge or medical separation; and
- Completion of at least 60 college credits with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 grade scale, as provided by one or more accredited institutions of higher learning or a non-accredited institution of higher learning that the Department of Education (DOE) has identified as having a quality program resulting in a bachelor’s degree or higher.
While teaching under a temporary certificate, the person must be assigned a teacher mentor for a minimum of 2 school years after commencing employment. The teacher mentor must hold a valid professional teaching certificate, have at least 3 years of teaching experience, and have earned an effective or highly effective performance evaluation rating.
The issuance of a temporary certificate under this pathway is valid for five school fiscal years and is nonrenewable.
As the summary makes clear, this is not a free pass for veterans whose sole qualification is having served. Instead, it is an earn-while-you-learn program, giving veterans a leg up to practice what they are actively learning in their post-military career alongside the invaluable experience military service provides.
DeSantis, in announcing the website, noted:
“Florida is the most veteran- and military-friendly state in the nation. 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.”
The Florida State Board of Education will formally consider the rule for implementation on August 17th. Given the bill’s unanimous bipartisan support, this is doubtless little more than a formality.
The bill works at multiple levels. It assists veterans working toward reintegrating themselves into civilian life. It provides a ready supply of teachers with real-world experience that no educational system geared toward teaching credentials certification alone can match. It also actively brings into the teaching pool men and women who far more likely than not love their country, based on their willingness to have served in its defense, thus providing a desperately needed counter to woke agenda pushers hiding behind an educator’s facade. Finally, in a time where school shootings are a sad reality, having teachers trained in properly using firearms will hopefully serve as a deterrent for the next madman contemplating violence against schoolchildren.
When it comes to genuinely assisting veterans, most government officials, regardless of position held, embody the joke often attributed to Mark Twain yet most likely composed by one of his friends: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Once again, through his actions, Ron DeSantis is walking the talk and doing something about improving schools.