Gov. DeSantis looking to recruit veterans to teaching field

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Veterans with at least four years of service and an honorable discharge can get a temporary teaching certificate.

First Uncle Sam wanted them to fight, now Governor Ron wants them to teach.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law this year (SB 896) allowing U.S. military veterans to get a teaching certificate — valid for five years — before they finish their bachelor’s degree, a requirement to get a certificate.

Now, he’s setting up a website to aid veterans seeking a certificate.

“Florida is the most veteran- and military-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said in a released statement. “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 board of the Department of Education will meet Wednesday to approve a rule implementing the new program. To qualify, a veteran must have at least four years of military service with an honorable or medical discharge; have at least 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average; pass a state subject area exam and clear a background check. Florida public and charter schools will accept the temporary certificates.

The new law requires veterans who receive a temporary certificate to have a “teacher mentor” to monitor them for at least two years. The mentors must have their own valid certificate, at least three years of teaching experience in pre-K through 12th grade and have an “effective” or “highly effective” rating from the state’s performance evaluation.

The program is designed to allow veterans to get their certificate and into the classroom ahead of graduation, but they must graduate before the five-year certificate expires to receive a full valid teaching certificate.

“With the skills and experience that our 1.7 million veterans bring to Florida’s workforce, this new pathway to teaching will positively impact Florida’s students,” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said in a released statement. “Veterans and servicemembers can now work toward their full professional certificate while imparting their unique knowledge and valuable experience in the classroom.”

Florida has struggled to address chronic teaching shortages in recent years, and the new law is seen as one way to increase the number of permanent teachers in classrooms. DeSantis has pushed for and received funding increases from the Legislature to increase the minimum starting salary for teachers to $47,500, but the shortages persist.

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