Leon County Teacher’s Associations reacts to Governor DeSantis’ plan to address teacher shortage

Teacher shortage proposal reaction
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 11:55 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As we reported Monday, district leaders in Leon County still searching for teachers and bus drivers.

The district started the year 20 bus drivers short and needing to fill around 30 teaching vacancies.

However, staffing shortages have been a problem across the state.

The Florida Education Association reported around 8,000 teaching vacancies as kids went back to school and to combat that, Governor DeSantis is a pushing a program in an effort to get more teachers in the classroom.

Last week, It was veterans, but at a press conference Wednesday, the governor talked about his plan to hire first responders to help answer the call.

“And so our view is that those folks are bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge and I think the students look up to them and I think it’s a big deal,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “So we want them to work in our education system as a place where they can lead and continue to serve our community.”

The program requires applicants to meet certain criteria to get their temporary teaching certificate, it waves exam fees, and offers a $4,000 bonus for first responders. Money teachers feel could be used to raise salaries.

“Over the last 10 years, Florida has only gotten worse in terms of their average teacher salary and so it’s disrespectful for all these bonus programs and moneys to entice other people into a profession that we wouldn’t be losing folks if we were actually respecting the folks that were there in the first place,” explained Leon County Teacher’s Association President Scott Mazur.

While Mazur says he has great respect for first responders, he feels this plan challenges the standards for educators.

“There’s practices that people go to school to hone their craft and you know to kind of say those things don’t matter is disrespectful to the folks that have committed their life to be professional educators,” exclaimed Mazur.

Governor DeSantis believes however, that the life experiences of veterans and first responders can pick up that slack.

“You can sit in a university lecture hall but that does not supplant what you learn in the life experiences with being in those military units understanding how to lead people and understanding how to deal with difficult circumstances,” Governor DeSantis proclaimed.

Mazur, says he hopes policy change will make a difference in public schools moving forward.

“The issues that we’re dealing with in the state of Florida right now are built off of bad policy and the only way to change it is to implement good policy,” Mazur said. “So we need to make sure that we’re doing a holistic approach that helps enhance our public schools.”

The proposed plan would also allow people with Associates Degrees to partner with existing teachers as mentors and it offers a scholarship program for current teachers to get master’s degrees.

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