(The Center Square) – In another effort to provide job opportunities to military veterans and address a teacher shortage, Florida is making it easier for qualified veterans to receive an education certificate and begin teaching in Florida public schools.
“Florida is proud to offer qualified military veterans a longer runway to earning a professional educator certification,” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said. The state’s “Military Veterans Certification Pathway” program became effective July 1.
The state is issuing a five-year temporary certificate to qualified military veterans who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degrees and meet certain criteria.
They must have a minimum of 48 months of active duty military service with an honorable/medical discharge, a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average, have a passing score on a Florida subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects that demonstrate a mastery of subject area knowledge.
Applicants must also complete a waiver request to avoid paying application fees. They are encouraged to apply online.
Diaz says since July 1, they’ve had 83 applications to the program so far.
The temporary certificate enables qualified veterans to teach while they continue their education with the goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in teaching.
The program was created through a new bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. DeSantis signed six bills into law supporting veterans, military members and their families to offer a range of support related to employment, educational and other opportunities.
The new laws provide educational opportunities for disabled veterans enabling them to receive free tuition and pay no fees, change education requirements for children of active-duty military families that transfer to new schools, change to state agencies requirements to allow military experience when applying for civilian jobs, require the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to expedite license applications of active-duty military spouses, and update the definition of Uniformed Service to include the U.S. Space Force and updates military base names.
In addition to signing these bills into law, DeSantis also announced more than $3 million was being awarded to military communities, $20 million was being dedicated to CareerSource Florida and state workforce agencies for targeted workforce training to support veterans focusing on high demand industries including aviation, aerospace, and defense.
“In Florida, we value those who protect and serve our nation and the sacrifices that their families make,” DeSantis said when signing the bills into law. “That is why we work to provide tangible support that enhances the lives and communities of service members for generations to come.”
According to a recently published 2022 Florida Defense Industry Economic Impact Analysis by the Florida Defense Support Task Force, Florida’s military and defense industry supported more than 860,000 jobs in 2020. Florida saw a 12% increase in direct defense spending from $44 billion in 2018 to $49.3 billion in 2020, which generated more than $96.6 billion in value-added economic impacts, or 8.5% of the state’s economy.
Florida has 1.5 million military veterans and retirees.