- Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced three new teacher recruitment initiatives ahead of the start of the new academic year
- The initiatives include a first responder-to-teacher pipeline, an apprenticeship program, and a scholarship initiative that allows teachers to easily attain a master’s degree
- DeSantis stated that the initiatives will be pursued in the next Legislative Session
- Florida currently faces a teacher shortage exceeding 9,000 vacancies
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced three new educator recruitment initiatives in wake of the ongoing teacher shortage. DeSantis stated that the trio of initiatives will be pursued during the next Legislative Session.
The first initiative expands the military veteran-to-teacher pipeline, now encompassing the whole of Florida’s first responders including law enforcement and firefighters. Under the initiative, first responders that become teachers will have certification exam fees subsidized by the state, as well as being eligible for a $4,000 salary bonus. To mitigate the shortage of teachers in critical core subjects like reading and science, those who become teachers in those areas will be eligible for an additional $1,000 bonus.
The second initiative plans to implement a teacher apprenticeship program that allows prospective educators to work directly with students alongside a tenured education professional. Floridians with an associate’s degree are eligible to partake in the program. Through the two-year-long apprenticeship, participants will go on to receive a bachelor’s degree. To incentivize mentor participation, experienced teachers that oversee an apprentice will receive a $4,000 bonus for each year of involvement.
Lastly, DeSantis seeks to launch a new scholarship program that enables teachers to easily attain a master’s degree. The program would allow teachers to instruct dual enrollment classes at the high school in which they teach. The program consolidates high school and dual enrollment college courses into one building, increasing accessibility to rural community students that may have issues attending dual enrollment classes at a college campus, where they are typically conducted.
“Hopefully what we’re doing is saying that teaching is not about learning “education” in college or university, it’s about having proficiency in core subjects and learning on the ground how to do that,” said DeSantis. “There are other people who may not have as high of a grade point average in university courses, but they have real energy and connect with the students, and they just do a great job. That’s something you can’t judge on an academic transcript, but certainly, we would prefer people with subject proficiency and real-world experience.”
The State Board of Education highlighted major teacher shortages for the 2022–2023 school year in a number of critical subjects, including Reading and Math, which are core tenants in fostering the development of fundamental academic abilities.
According to Florida TaxWatch, a non-partisan economic watchdog group, this is due to both a decrease in the number of new teachers entering the field and a rise in the number of instructors quitting.
One estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found teachers leaving the profession account for approximately eight in nine of the average 300,000 total job openings per year. A recent survey by the National Education Association also found that 55 percent of current teachers are considering leaving their profession earlier than planned.
“A lot of these things make total common sense,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. “These three initiatives are incredibly important … this is a systematic way for us to increase the pool of teachers; the military pathway, the bonuses, the apprenticeship, the dual enrollment scholarships. I commend our governor because Florida is clearly the education state.”
In July, Diaz disclosed a potential separate state initiative to recruit non-education professionals to teach specialized classes. Exemplified through the utilization of a scientist teaching a class once or twice a week in a local district through means of a block schedule, allowing them to retain their day job while still providing a unique and focused educational experience for students.