The state of Florida, under the leadership of GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, is going out of its way to help military veterans with a program titled the Military Veterans Certification Pathway that would permit a four-year veteran with a minimum 2.5 GPA in college to teach in classrooms while they are initially paired with a mentor teacher.
The state is plagued by a severe teacher shortage; MRCTV noted that by last week, Brevard County Public Schools listed 179 classroom teacher openings, Osceola County Public Schools 271, and Orange County Public Schools 167.
The program is “a great pathway for us to be able to have our veterans, in this veteran-friendly state, to step up to the plate,” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz told Fox News, pointing out that veterans are used to time management and discipline.
“This is important in our classrooms because we’re missing some of that with today’s younger generation,” he said.
“You give me somebody who has four years of experience as a Devil Dog over somebody who has four years of experience at Shoehorn U and I will take the Marine every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” DeSantis asserted.
“Another thing we did is we said, ‘OK, how can we get more talent into our school system?’ So we did a bill this past year that said if you have completed four years of active duty military and you have, I think, 60 hours of college coursework, you’re eligible,” he continued, as Florida Politics reported. “If you had a 2.5 GPA and passed whatever the tests are to pass, you get temporary certification. You can work toward your degree. But you can go in and contribute.”
DeSantis bluntly addressed critics of the idea, saying, “You’ve got some people in the media or whatever who are criticizing this. You had the head of the teachers’ union in Sarasota criticize it, saying, ‘You can’t just throw any warm body into the classroom.’ Well, I’ll tell you something: people who have served our country are not just some ‘warm body.’ They have a lot to offer our communities.”
“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 Florida Senate’s bill analysis stated.