Gov. Ron DeSantis is vowing to “keep plowing forward” with plans to allow military veterans to teach in Florida classrooms, suggesting Wednesday that vets may be better suited to teaching than an education major.
“You give me somebody who has four years of experience as a Devil Dog over somebody who has four years of experience at Shoehorn U and I will take the Marine every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Brevard County.
DeSantis made the comments defending a Senate bill last year that allowed for an alternative pathway to teaching certification for military veterans, a measure that cleared the House and Senate unanimously.
The bill allows for a five-year waiver from traditional certification requirements for teachers with military experience.
Part of the need for such a bill, the Governor said, was a demand for more “talent” in schools.
“Another thing we did is we said, ‘OK, how can we get more talent into our school system?’ So we did a bill this past year that said if you have completed four years of active duty military and you have, I think, 60 hours of college coursework, you’re eligible. If you had a 2.5 GPA and passed whatever the tests are to pass, you get temporary certification.”
“You can work toward your degree,” DeSantis added. “But you can go in and contribute.”
The Governor then turned his fire on critics of the new law.
“You’ve got some people in the media or whatever who are criticizing this. You had the head of the teachers’ union in Sarasota criticize it, saying, ‘You can’t just throw any warm body into the classroom,” DeSantis said.
“Well, I’ll tell you something: people who have served our country are not just some ‘warm body.’ They have a lot to offer our communities.”
The bill analysis suggested the pathway to certification could fill the persistent need for more teachers in Florida classrooms.
“The potential availability of additional educators, especially as Florida faces a teacher shortage in certain regions and in specific instructional subject matters could provide district school board(s) with enhanced options and expanded personnel choices.”
“Experienced military leaders who have mentored and educated military service members for years may have skills and experiences that can translate easily to the classroom and would be a ready-made workforce for Florida’s public and charter schools and could address short and long-term workforce needs,” asserted the post-meeting analysis from the final Senate committee of reference for the bill.