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The Florida State Board of Education recently unanimously adopted a rule allowing military veterans to earn a temporary teaching certificate while working toward a bachelor’s degree.
Unfortunately, this smart move was met with skepticism, rumors, and outright lies designed to serve political ends. The president of the Sarasota County Teachers Association went so far as to say, “You can’t just throw a warm body into the classroom.”
As the sponsor of the bill that established this new path, and as a veteran himselfI’m here to set the record straight.
Let’s start with the details. Under the new law, military veterans can obtain a five-year temporary teaching certificate without a bachelor’s degree, provided they have a minimum of 48 months of active military service with an honorable or medical discharge, a minimum of 60 college credits and pass the same Florida subject exam that and traditional teachers. Anyone who earns a provisional certificate through this route must still earn a bachelor’s degree within five years or they will not be able to obtain full professional certification to continue teaching.
FLORIDA LEGISLATOR AND TEACHER CRITICIZE VETERANS’ QUICK RETURN TO CLASSROOM PROGRAM
As you might expect, this innovative initiative is extremely popular. In fact, it passed the Florida Legislature unanimously as part of Senate Bill 896. That’s right – not a single elected Republican or Democrat voted against it. It was also supported by a coalition of education nonprofits, including the Florida Citizens Alliance, the Florida Parent-Teacher Association and numerous veterans’ advocacy organizations.
The widespread support is easy to understand. every year, teachers throughout Florida enter the classroom for the first time. Many college graduates come in with a newly minted bachelor’s degree and, ideally, some classroom experience, such as an apprenticeship or college internship.
Contrast that experience with a veteran who has spent at least four years on active duty — not only sacrificing service to his country, but also participating in courses and exercises that focus on excellence and leadership — and probably training a few of his own. How can you say that a veteran is not as qualified as a recent college graduate?
Finding gainful employment is one of the biggest challenges veterans face when they leave the military. The transition to civilian life can be difficult, and unemployment has been shown to be a contributing factor to depression and suicide.
These plagues are ravaging our veteran communities, and an estimated 20 veterans die each day. By giving veterans a longer landing strip to earn a bachelor’s degree, Florida values their military skills and experience, helping them launch rewarding careers.
In Florida, under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and the state legislature, we recognize that there are many different ways to prepare someone to teach and inspire our future generations. This veteran initiative is in addition to 11 existing training pathways in Florida. It recognizes our service members and also requires the same standards to obtain full professional teaching certification.
We are proud of the bipartisan work that created the Military Veterans Certification Pathway and look forward to its full implementation beginning this school year. It’s good for veterans, students and state of Florida – which already ranks third in the nation in K-12 achievement.