Florida military veterans are being recruited to fill in as teachers, as the state remains desperate to fill vacant positions.
The teacher shortage is raging on. Sparked well before the pandemic, it’s become such an issue that many districts are facing an education crisis within the public school system. Increasing teacher pay and offering hefty bonuses has not solved the problem, proving that money is not enough to draw teachers back to the classroom. Now, Florida is seeking military veterans to take on the duty.
As states scramble to use new tactics to draw interest to the teaching profession, Florida is encouraging military veterans to expand their horizons. New legislation allowing military service to count toward education requirements was signed into law on July 1st. While hundreds of teaching positions remain unfilled in the area, 5-year temporary teaching certificates are being awarded to veterans who have yet to obtain their bachelors degree and even their family members.
The education system is in need of reliable teachers who show up and get the job done. Florida houses the 5th largest active duty population and 1.5 million vets. Knowing the severity of the teacher shortage and the capability of military families, this solution may provide higher success rates than other attempts to revive the education profession. Florida military veterans and their spouses are eligible to apply at any Military Certification Fees Waiver Site, or online starting July 21st.
This is all made possible due to changes made to the Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Military Family Opportunity Act. Florida military veterans who were honorably discharged or retired can apply as well as spouses of active duty military members, veterans, and deceased service members. Those interested must have completed at least 48 hours of military service which would equate to two years of college credit.
This affords Florida area military veterans and/or their spouses the opportunity to earn a teaching certificate with only two years of college should they pass the state-required bachelor’s degree test, and obtain a teaching position at a standard public school or charter school. By easing the pathway to earning a teaching certificate, Florida lawmakers are hopeful that districts will be able to properly staff schools while offering vets (and their spouses) more opportunities to find purpose and fulfillment after serving their country.
Although this is being celebrated as a new development, the Troops to Teachers program was developed to transition former soldiers into teachers in the 90s. Originally overseen through a partnership between the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, both federal offices have taken on different duties in the 2000s. The Department of Education still oversees this initiative but it is the Department of Defense that carries out daily tasks. Now Florida is helping military veterans become teachers through their own local efforts.
Whether Florida military veterans can fill all vacant positions, or just a portion, the state is in need. The teacher shortage has affected the education system for so long now that without proper management students will suffer. Ensuring that both teachers and the children they serve are able to enjoy positive classroom experiences is a goal that many people support and this initiative is likely to benefit everyone involved.