Jay Collins slams Karla Hernández-Mats over veteran remarks, demands Janet Cruz condemn words

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Are past comments by Charlie Crist’s running mate causing problems for other Democrats on the ballot?

Republican state Senate candidate Jay Collins slammed comments made by Karla Hernández-Mats criticizing a plan to allow veterans to teach without full accreditation. Crist, the Democratic nominee for Governor, named Hernández-Mats as his pick for Lieutenant Governor on Saturday.

Furthermore, he’s demanding state Sen. Janet Cruz, the Tampa Democrat he aims to unseat, speak out on the remarks.

“Senator Janet Cruz represents MacDill Air Force Base and one of the largest veteran communities in the state, but she remains silent over Karla Hernández-Mats’ comments that our veterans would be ‘de-professionalizing’ the careers of educators,” said Collins, a Green Beret running on his own veteran status.

“This is unacceptable and I call on Janet to join me in immediately condemning these arrogant statements.”

Shortly after Hernández-Mats was selected, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign highlighted remarks to MSNBC where she slammed the plan to allow combat veterans to teach during an ongoing teacher shortage.

“This is them de-professionalizing our careers,” Hernández-Mats said. “Teachers have gone to school for four years. They have their bachelor’s, they have master’s, they have doctoral degrees. And to think that somebody who has four years of combat experience would do well in our schools is actually very disrespectful to our educators, to our teachers.”

DeSantis this month has started encouraging veterans to follow a newly open Military Veterans Certification Pathway, which would allow a five-year teaching certificates to military veterans.

To qualify, veterans must have 48 months of military service with an honorable or medical discharge, 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average, a passing score on a Florida subject area examination, an approved background check and a job lined up with a Florida public school.

Notably, the program arose from legislation (SB 896) passed unanimously by the Legislature, including a 39-0 vote by the Senate, with Cruz in support.

Collins said Cruz needs to make clear she does not agree with Hernández-Mats about whether veterans should be teaching.

“We must improve our public education system, and that is why I am proud to support Governor Ron DeSantis’ initiative to expand the ranks of educators to include the brave veterans of our armed forces. The true culprit in de-professionalizing our educators are the special interest groups that prioritize teaching our five-year-olds about the birds and the bees instead of their ABCs and 123s,” he said.

“Any veteran who wishes to teach in Florida must meet standards beyond having served, and I’m sure that Ms. Hernández-Mats was aware of that since she is the president of the largest special interest teachers union in the Southeast. Instead, she willfully pushes the elitist narrative that veterans are uneducated and unqualified for any role in academia. Enough is enough.”

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