A $4,000 bonus is on offer too
At a press conference in Pasco County, Florida on August 16, Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr spoke about further plans to address the state's teacher shortage. In July the Governor announced a new scheme that would allow qualifying military veterans to teach, even if they didn't have degrees.
Now it appears that Florida will be looking to former police officers to address the state's skills gap.
Plugging the skills gap
The Florida Education Association reported in July that there are over 9,500 vacant teaching and support staff jobs across the state. This may in part be due to fewer people than ever wanting to join the profession - data showed that participation in teacher college programs decreased by 23% between 2008 and 2016.
With schools now having resumed after the summer vacation, the effects of teacher shortages are being felt acutely.
Bringing more teachers into the classroom is important both for kids and for the teachers who are left to deal with staff shortages. The initiative appears to be the latest way in which Florida is putting its first responders' interests to the fore while also addressing the gap.
Financial and career incentives
Those who retire from careers of public service may soon have the opportunity to become qualified teachers at a discounted cost, as well as receiving a bonus of $4,000 when they sign up. As the governor announced during the press event:
“We’ve got people who served in law enforcement, retired, and now they’re looking for the next chapter in their life.”
As well as the prospect of a bonus for signing up, DeSantis announced another incentive:
“We will waive the exam fees for the state teachers certification.”
Qualified teachers concerned over impacts?
Many teachers are already over-stretched, and having to implement some of Florida's more controversial new laws that ban teaching of certain 'woke' topics including critical race theory, and the so-called 'don't say gay' bill which bans discussion of sexual and gender identity in grades K through 3.
While most would welcome the help of having new members of staff, but some qualified teachers have already expressed concerns that the lack of experience and qualifications may limit the value that ex-veterans and first responders can add as teachers. There's also a suggestion that Governor DeSantis' real focus should be on why so many teachers are leaving the profession in the first place.
Time will tell what the effects of this new initiative turn out to be.
Do you agree with the idea of promoting former first responders to become teachers to address the teacher shortage? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.