Florida allocates $5 million to alternative teaching pathway initiative

by | Dec 14, 2023



  • The State of Florida this week announced an allocation of $5 million towards the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grow Your Own Teacher Grant.
  • The program offers an alternative route to teaching through apprenticeships, focusing on classroom experience rather than traditional university education. To qualify, candidates must have an associate’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher and will receive a temporary teaching certificate while earning income.
  • The initiative, supported by an initial $9 million investment, involves ten higher education institutions, including the University of Florida and Miami Dade College.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week that the State of Florida is allocating $5 million to the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grow Your Own Teacher Grant, aimed at providing an alternative entry point into the education field.

The pipeline is designed to create a no-cost apprenticeship pathway for individuals aspiring to become teachers, with an emphasis on classroom-based learning over conventional university education. To enter the program, individuals must possess an associate’s degree and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, meaning that prospective educators do not need to hold a traditional bachelor’s degree. Through the initiative, participants will be granted a temporary teaching certificate and receive income.

“Florida is proud to offer a hands-on teacher apprenticeship program that prioritizes classroom experience over university-based learning,” said DeSantis. “As the national leader in education, we will continue to support our teachers and make sure we have high-quality educators at every school in the state.”

Backed by a principal $9 million investment in October, the initiative is planned to host 200 participants per year. Ten higher education institutions, including the University of Florida, Miami Dade College, and Florida A&M University, are slated to receive funding through the program.

To establish mentorships, institutions of higher education apply for state funding and partner with school districts to develop action plans. The districts then hire Teacher Apprentices and offer a combination of practical in-classroom training and academic instruction. Each apprentice, who also applies for a temporary teaching certificate, is paired with a seasoned Teacher Apprentice Mentor for hands-on guidance.

“This will provide a new pathway to the teaching profession that emphasizes hands-on training by working directly within classrooms to get the necessary experience to earn an educator certificate,” said Rep. Karen Gonzalez Pittman, who filed a legislative proposal last month that would allocate funds for stipends to retired or current teachers who take on mentorship roles.

DeSantis signed House Bill 1035 into law this year, which launched the Grow Your Own Teacher program. The operation was developed in collaboration between the Florida Department of Education and the University of Florida and serves to mitigate the ongoing teacher shortage across the state.

At the beginning of the current academic school year, the Florida Education Association (FEA), a left-leaning teachers union, reported that there were nearly 7,000 educator vacancies across all counties statewide. The union compounded its primary data point by reporting that there were also more than 5,000 openings for school support staff, totaling approximately 12,000 unfilled positions.

The state Department of Education refuted the FEA’s numbers, however, alleging that the union used flawed methodology alongside inflated figures. A proprietary survey conducted by the agency reports that the FEA inflated actual vacancy numbers by as much as 30 percent, with the ‘actual’ teacher vacancy number sitting at 4,776 – an 8 percent decrease from the previous year.

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