PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — At the Florida Department of Education meeting held at Pensacola State College Wednesday, board members voted unanimously on rules that will make an easier pathway for veterans to become teachers in the state.

The board approved three different rules, which are listed below:

Rule 6A-4.004, F.A.C.

  • Outlines the eligibility criteria for the new 5-year Temporary Certificate for military veterans.
  • Updates the Florida STEM Course List incorporated by reference due to changes to the Course Code Directory.

Rule 6A-4.0012, F.A.C.  

  • Creates a new online and hard copy certification form for applicants to apply for the 5-year Temporary Certificate for military veterans.
  • Removes the active duty requirement for honorably discharged reservists to be eligible for a military certification fee waiver.

Rules 6A-4.002, F.A.C.

  • Specifies only a 3-year Temporary Certificate may be issued after the certificate has been expired for more than a year since the new 5-year Temporary Certificate for military veterans can only be issued once.

In order for military veterans to be issued the five-year certificate, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum of 48 months of active-duty military service with an honorable/medical discharge;
  • Minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average;
  • Passing score on a Florida subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects which demonstrates subject area knowledge;
  • Employment in a Florida school district, including charter schools, with an assigned mentor; and
  • Cleared background screening.

According to Dr. Paul Burns, deputy chancellor of the Florida Department of Education, 215 veterans have applied for the certificate as of today.

“We look forward to issuing these certificates to the eligible applicants,” said Burns.

Several local residents attended the meeting to voice support for the certification.

Mark Harden, a 30-year Navy veteran said during his time in the military he had a lot of interaction with the military personnel the state would be bringing into the classroom.

“Let me tell you, they are quality. They are great,” said Harden. “I went to a nuclear power school. I learned physics, math, electrical theory mechanical theory all taught to me by enlisted. They didn’t have bachelor’s degrees. They knew how to teach. I got to do that myself; become a teacher and teach things. So, I am strongly in favor of this. I know you can certify and qualify these folks to do this. Those four years they spent in the military they learn something more, leadership. That’s what you need in your classroom, people that know how to take charge. That is what the military quality person you’re going to get is. I am very, very supportive and appreciative of the governor and the legislature for making this happen.”

Okaloosa County School District Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Lee Hale talked about how important it is for the school district.

“Okaloosa County, my home county is home to Eglin Air Force Base, the worlds’ largest,” said Hale. “It only makes sense that we would be the forever home to many, many veterans that spent time with us while on active duty. Those of us in the Okaloosa County School District are excited of the potential of leveraging this talent pool for the benefit of our students.”  

He said veterans represent some of the smartest, most capable individuals the country has to offer.

“In Okaloosa County, we are proud to have many veterans teaching in our schools already and with great success,” said Hale. “Our veteran teachers bring so much to the table, experience, leadership, discipline and understanding of protocol and procedure, patriotism and appreciation towards service. They demonstrate it every day in our classrooms. They know the students they teach are the future of our country and they take that fact and their responsibility very seriously. Our veteran teachers are a critical part of our highly regarded instructional staff.”

With the new certification path, Hale said it will provide enticement to many other veterans in the area.

“This new certification path will provide a wonderful enticement to many other veterans out there who are seeking a new career path that’s rooted in many of the values that are woven into their personal fabric,” said Hale. “The benefits to the measure of our school districts as we continue to seek to fill critical vacancies with excellent candidates is obvious and enumerable. Our students will ultimately be the benefactors.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference at Cordova Elementary School in which he talked about a raise in minimum salary for teachers among other things.

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