Unlicensed military veteran may soon be leading an FL class

Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved new legislation to create an alternative temporary education certificate for military veterans, saying their prior military experience will have value in the classroom. But the law would circumvent a prerequisite expected of thousands of teachers in Florida – a bachelor’s degree.

Instead, the military veteran would be allowed five years to teach in a classroom while completing a four-year degree.

While supporters of the move suggest it will make it easier to hire new teachers, others worry that military experience may not be adequate training for public school classrooms.

A press release issued Thursday by the governor’s office says the Florida Board of Education is to consider a new rule that would implement the new curriculum.

“Our veterans have a wealth of knowledge and experience they can bring to the classroom, and with this innovative approach, they will be able to do so for five years with temporary certification while they work to graduate,” said DeSantis in a Rumble video on Thursday. Rumble is a fringe video sharing website, similar to YouTube.

Currently, a typical teaching degree requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, as well as other qualifications to qualify for a vocational teaching certificate.

A temporary teaching certificate also requires a bachelor’s degree. The educator, who can teach in a classroom, is authorized for three years to fulfill the additional requirements to obtain the professional teaching certificate.

But in the case of the new law, the Educator Certification Pathways for Veterans, some veterans will be able to bypass the baccalaureate requirement in the temporary education certificate, provided they have completed four years of military service in service. active and have been honorably discharged. Additionally, these veterans would need 60 college credits and achieve a minimum GPA of 2.5. (A four-year degree typically requires 120 college credits.)

Darzell Warren, president of the Escambia Education Association, previously told the Phoenix that before becoming a teacher, she served in the US Air Force for several years.

“There are military veterans who are going to be great entering the profession, but then there will be veterans who are going to struggle, because the military is different from entering a classroom,” said- she told the Phoenix last week. “I’ve been on both sides of that.”

She added, “Yes, they have leadership skills, but you can’t treat students like you would treat a military subordinate.”

Mentor teachers

Additionally, a veteran seeking this temporary teaching certificate route must be assigned a “teacher mentor” for at least two school years. The mentor must hold a professional teaching certificate, have at least three years of classroom experience teaching K-12, and must be rated “effective” or “very effective” in an evaluation of performance the previous year.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association. Credit: Portrait of an FEA officer.

“We have mentoring programs right now,” Andrew Spar, president of the state teachers’ union called the Florida Education Association, told the Phoenix. “But I can tell you that very often the mentor teacher is overwhelmed. And so, as a mentor teacher, they may not be spending as much time as they would like, or the new teacher would like, to really support that new teacher.

During the Thursday Rumble video on the veterans’ education opportunity, DeSantis blamed unions for the “rigid” education requirements.

“For too long, the requirements to be a teacher have been too rigid, with union bosses insisting that all educators get certain credentials that often have little impact on teaching performance,” DeSantis said.

Spar pushed back on that notion, saying the union had advocated for a relaxation of some requirements set by the state, while maintaining a high standard of education.

“I think this is just another one of those issues for the governor to try to undermine the profession,” Spar said.

“We currently have a code of ethics for each teacher that we must maintain those ethical standards, and we should do everything we can to accommodate teachers once they become teachers, or when they meet their requirements for teachers. tests and such, in a way that makes sense. We should have that flexibility.

“But removing standards doesn’t make sense. And to say we don’t need highly trained, highly skilled people in the classroom doesn’t make sense,” Spar said.

Does not extend to military spouses

In June, DeSantis held a press conference that reviewed several new laws from the 2022 legislative session that involved employment opportunities for service members and their spouses, one of which included the temporary education pathway for veterans.

At the time, unclear messaging from the governor’s office and the Florida Department of Education led some to believe that the Veterans’ Temporary Teaching Certificate pathway would also extend to veterans’ spouses.

However, the legislation that creates the temporary certificate for veterans does not include spouses in this way, making only minor changes to the fee waivers that military spouses were already eligible for.

The Florida Department of Education has since updated its Temporary Military Education Certificate Pathway webpage to clarify:

“Military spouses and families are not eligible for this program,” according to the DOE, with emphasis added.

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