Teaching qualifications

Amid US teacher shortage, Florida turns to military veterans

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

MIAMI, Sept 13 (Reuters) – So many Florida teachers have abandoned their profession in recent years that the state is inviting military veterans with no prior teaching experience to lead classrooms while they earn college credentials .

Elsewhere in the United States, as school resumed in August and September, districts sent virtual teachers to classrooms in several states and offered bonuses to attract retirees.

Education experts say the teacher shortage they’ve been warning about for years has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, when teachers who haven’t died or become seriously ill have faced new stresses such as remote learning or exposure to potentially sick students.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

To make up for the shortage, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the military veterans certification pathway on June 9 after going through both houses of the Florida legislature without a single opposing vote. The law grants qualified veterans a five-year teaching certificate and allows them to work as teachers while they earn their bachelor’s degree.

In Florida, which the National Education Association says has about 195,000 public school teachers and an average daily attendance of 2.5 million students in 2021, 282 veterans applied for the Military Veterans Certification Pathway on August 24.

The measure drew both enthusiastic support and fierce criticism, typical at a time of deep division in the United States over education and other issues.


Instead of launching programs such as the Military Veterans Certification Pathway, the teachers’ union at the Florida Education Association says states should stop insulting teachers and passing laws that penalize those who stray from opinions. conservative on racial or LGBTQ issues. Read more

“If the governor thinks this (recruiting veterans) is going to solve the teacher shortage problem, he is completely wrong. Because no one wants to enter a profession that is decried every day, especially by the governor,” union president Andrew Spar said in August.

DeSantis’ office referred the questions to the Florida Department of Education. Department spokesman Alex Lanfranconi said in a statement, “The union clowns are once again just complaining, spreading misinformation and offering zero solutions to the teachers they ‘represent’.”

Marlon Greig, a teacher at Earlington Heights Elementary School in Miami, said he has a brother in the US Army and another in the Air Force ‘but I wouldn’t trust my kids’ to them as teachers .

“It’s just not fair for someone to walk into a classroom unqualified and unprepared to teach and shape young minds,” Greig said.

US Army Reserve Brigadier General Vincent Buggs said he was confident veterans could immediately become valuable in the classroom.

“Absolutely. There are teachers fresh out of college who are making an immediate impact in the classroom,” Buggs said.


According to a survey of 2,379 American Federation of Teachers union members conducted by Hart Research Associates from June 17-21, 79% were very or somewhat dissatisfied with their terms and conditions, four times the 20% who said they were very or somewhat satisfied. rather satisfied.

Two years ago, when the pandemic was still new in June 2020, the satisfied camp outnumbered the dissatisfied group, 53% to 45%.

Disgruntled teachers surveyed cited heavier workloads, student apathy, lack of pay, and lack of support from parents and administrators.

“We lose too many long before retirement,” said Richard Ingersoll, an education expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “We need to improve retention.”

The exact impact is unclear, according to experts who are awaiting current national data from the US Department of Education.

Private data gives an indication. Elevate K-12, a company that provides distance teachers who deliver lessons via video link, said that between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school year, demand increased 314% to 336 school districts. , with nearly 2,400 teachers helping nearly 57,000 students.

Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute, an independent national think tank, said its researchers reported teacher shortages as early as 2016.

“The most important predictor of student success is the qualification of their teachers,” Darling-Hammond said. “So when the faculty is decimated in this way, you really see a substantial impact on achievement.”

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Maria Alejandra Cardonoa in Miami and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Donna Bryson and Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.