Florida teachers have taken to the internet with outrage over a new bill allowing military veterans to teach without a degree.
On June 9, the Florida Legislature passed a bill granting approval for former and present members of the military to teach in classrooms. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced the move as part of an $8.6 million package to expand career and workforce training opportunities for veterans and their spouses.
The Florida Department of Education followed the legislation this month by announcing the state would issue a temporary teaching certificate to veterans "who have not yet earned their bachelor's degree."
"The Department is proud to provide a five-year temporary certificate through the Military Veterans Certification Pathway," a spokesperson from the Florida Department of Education told Newsweek.
Candidates must have a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average and a passing score on a Florida subject area examination for bachelor's level subjects. They are required to have served a minimum of 48 months with an honorable or medical discharge.
Although the measure was proposed to solve the statewide teacher shortage, many teachers in the state have spoken out against it.
"It sucks to see all these good teachers leaving because they are burned out and Florida is expensive to live [in] now, and we cannot afford [it] with our teachers' salary," said a teacher calling herself Mrs. Maya on TikTok. "So then the good idea was to put people that have no education on education."
In a video with 150,000 views, a teacher known as Millennial Ms. Frizzle on TikTok said she used to teach at a Florida public school near a large military airbase. She described the logic of the new policy as "dystopian."
"We know about the school-to-prison pipeline," commented the teacher.
The school-to-prison pipeline refers to a pattern of youth being pushed out of school through exclusionary discipline and swept into the criminal justice system. Florida schools refer students to law enforcement 30 percent more often than the national average, according to the ACLU of Florida.
"We want teachers to have guns and we don't want to pay for gun training, so hire military people that are already trained," she added dryly.
In 2019, DeSantis signed a bill allowing some teachers to carry firearms inside the classroom. The policy was introduced as an element of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which was passed in response to the mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.
Under DeSantis, Florida's schools have become a battleground for a host of cultural and political issues.
In April, he banned educators from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in K-12 classrooms, even though CRT was not part of the state's public school curriculum. He signed the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill in March, prohibiting "classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner." And in February, DeSantis threatened to defund 12 school districts that defied the state's ban on mask mandates.
Correction 07/28/2022, 5:12 p.m. ET: This article was updated to correct that the Military Veterans Certification Pathway does not extend teaching certificates to military spouses.