Many school districts throughout the country, including in Florida, are struggling to hire teachers.
In response, Florida has announced initiatives aimed at helping to “support and grow” the state’s teaching workforce.
Since late July, some people on social media have claimed the state’s efforts to hire more teachers include allowing military veterans’ spouses to teach without a college degree.
A Reddit user shared a story about this claim in a since-deleted post. It’s also been shared on other social media platforms such as Facebook. The story claims that a woman without a bachelor’s degree received a five-year teaching certification in Florida because she was married to a veteran who served four years in the military 30 years ago.
“She was a waitress. She starts teaching 3rd grade and the only thing she had to do to get this teaching certification was to observe certified teachers and their classrooms for a total of 12 hours,” the story shared on social media reads in part.
Can military veterans’ spouses teach without a college degree in Florida?
No, military veterans’ spouses cannot teach without a college degree in Florida. There is a program that allows veterans who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degree, and meet specific criteria, to earn a five-year temporary teaching certificate – but not their spouses.
WHAT WE FOUND
Teachers in Florida generally need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and obtain a teaching certificate, though the state is currently offering a temporary certification pathway for those with an associate’s degree who meet certain requirements.
At the beginning of July, Florida began issuing five-year temporary teaching certificates to military veterans who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degrees and meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Minimum of 4 years of active duty military service with an honorable or medical discharge.
- Minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average on an official transcript.
- Passing score on a Florida subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects which demonstrates mastery of subject area knowledge.
- Employment in a Florida school district, including charter schools, with an assigned mentor.
- Cleared background screening.
It’s unclear exactly where the misinformation about veterans’ spouses originated, but the claims may have stemmed from language on the state Department of Education’s website.
The webpage for the Certification Pathway Program says, “The Florida Department of Education is proud to provide opportunities for members of the United States Armed Forces, veterans and their spouses to become part of our team working hand in hand to improve Florida’s education system for students of all backgrounds and abilities.”
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The line about opportunities for military spouses likely refers to separate legislation that waives initial teacher certification and certification exam fees for active-duty military personnel, veterans and their spouses. But military spouses still need to have a bachelor’s degree to teach.
The webpage adds that “military spouses and families are not eligible” for the Certification Pathway Program, but internet archives show that clarification was not always listed on the page.
Using Wayback Machine, a digital archiving tool, VERIFY found a July 18 version of the webpage on the program that used the same language, but did not include the current clarification about military spouses and family members being ineligible. The header on the page also read: “Military Personnel, Veterans & Spouses.” Currently, that header says only, “Military.”
Some news outlets also published stories in July that reported military veterans’ spouses could receive five-year temporary teaching certificates, later issuing corrections.
The text of Florida Senate Bill 896, which established the Certification Pathway Program, also does not mention military spouses or family members.
It lists the eligibility criteria outlined by the state Department of Education above, and adds that the applicant must be 18 years or older, file an affidavit in which they agree to uphold the principles of the state and Federal Constitutions, and be “competent and capable of performing the duties, functions and responsibilities of an educator.”
The legislation also says the recipient of a temporary teaching certificate must be assigned a mentor for two school years who has a valid certificate of their own, along with at least 3 years of teaching experience and an “effective or highly effective performance evaluation rating.”