Southwest Florida schools start plan to fill teacher vacancies with veterans

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Students take a seat in a Southwest Florida classroom. Credit: WINK News

Southwest Florida students may be back in school already, but the area’s teacher shortage is still a problem. State officials hope that temporarily certifying veterans to teach will be a solution, but not all parents are on board with the plan.

This new recruitment plan would allow former military veterans who have not yet received a bachelor’s degree to receive a five-year temporary certificate to teach K-12. To qualify, veterans have to already have a job within a Florida school district. They also need a minimum of 48 months of active military service with an honorable or medical discharge, a minimum 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average and a passing score on a Florida subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects.

WINK News asked its viewers how they would feel if their child were taught by a veteran who had received this certification. Many say they support the plan, because it’s giving veterans a chance to do something for their communities. Others say they don’t feel comfortable with their child learning from someone that passed with minimal requirements.

Suzette Rivera, assistant director for the recruitment department of the School District of Lee County, says they will make sure the veterans are properly vetted and trained to teach students.

“We do have, still, classroom vacancies in our district; we have 198 classroom vacancies that we are continuing to fill and recruit for,” Rivera said. “One thing we’d like for our parents to know and our community know: Veterans still have to take and pass a subject area test to show mastery in a content area before they’re hired into a classroom.”

One Lee County parent says she would rather have her child learn from someone who has prior experience in teaching.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Marilyn said. “You need a good education for your kids, you know, that’s the only thing you can give to them. You send them to go to school, so they need to get good education.”

Veterans will be able to choose which subject they would like to teach. If they would like to continue to teach after the five-year temporary certification runs out, they would have to earn their bachelor’s degree. Visit the Florida Department of Education website for more on how to sign up.

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