In order to address it, the Florida Department of Education is proposing a solution to allow military veterans to fill those vacancies with no teaching degree. According to the Gainsville Sun, the move has many remaining teachers feeling the qualifications for the position are being diluted. ABC Tampa Bay reported the state has over 9,000 vacancies to fill before school starts in a couple of weeks.
In an even more dire statistic, “450,000 kids started school last year without a permanent teacher. Some people, like former Florida teacher Anita Carson, attributed the drop in applicants to Florida’s policies like the Stop Woke Act.
These right-wing extremist groups were talking about teachers indoctrinating kids with liberal [agendas] and saying that teachers are groomers and pedophiles if they ever support LGBTQ-anything in the presence of a minor,” Carson said. “I couldn’t take it anymore. I was like, ‘I have to get out of this. This is toxic. This is not the space that I want to be in anymore.’”
On June 9th, Florida’s legislative body passed a law allowing past, present, and reserve military members to be teachers. The Gainsville Sun explains that military vets and spouses will receive a five-year to teach without a degree.
“There are many people who have gone through many hoops and hurdles to obtain a proper teaching certificate,” said Carmen Ward, president of the Alachua County teachers union. “(Educators) are very dismayed that now someone with just a high school education can pass the test and can easily get a five-year temporary certificate.”
Ward also believes the way to attract talent is to offer better pay and support.
“There’s an assumption that if you were a student, you are also qualified to be a teacher,” Ward said. “That’s not necessarily the case, and so it’s just highly concerning because we’ve always had a high standard for educators in the public school system.”
Teacher candidates must have a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 GPA and also must receive a passing score on the FLDOE subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects. When veterans are considered, they must complete a minimum of 48 months of military service and have a teaching mentor if hired. So, if there’s a wide teaching shortage, how will there be enough teaching aids to go around?
School board member Tina Certain told the Sun the move would lower the bar for educators across the board.
“It’s not that I’m against the service veterans provide to our country,” she said. “I just think that to the education profession, we’re lowering the bar on that and minimizing the criteria of what it takes to enter the profession.”