Ron DeSantis demonstrates his utter contempt for the teaching profession. Anyone can teach, he believes. First he opened teaching careers to military veterans. Now he wants cops and all other first responders to teach. Really?

After giving military veterans easier access to temporary teaching certificates, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said he wants state legislators to expand that same option for law enforcement officers and other first responders next year. The goal is to help Florida schools fill vacant teaching positions — which amount to nearly 9,000 in schools across the state, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Education. But the governor says the proposal will also support and incentivize law enforcement officers and other first responders, like paramedics and firefighters, to go into the teaching profession. “Just like we do for veterans, we will do for the other first responders,” DeSantis said at a press conference in New Port Richey on Tuesday morning. “We will waive the exam fees for the state certification program.…”

Participants must have a bachelor’s degree and those who sign up will be eligible for a $4,000 bonus. If they teach courses or subject matters that are experiencing “really acute shortages,” DeSantis said they will get another $1,000. “We believe that the folks that have served our communities have an awful lot to offer,” DeSantis said. “We have people who have served 20 years in law enforcement, who have retired, and some of them are looking for the next chapter in their life….”

In the 2019-20 school year, Florida colleges and universities graduated only about a third of the teachers needed to fill vacancies in state schools for the 2020-21 school year — or only about 3,380 teachers despite an estimated 9,080 vacancies, according to a report from the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

“I don’t think these schools have proven to be effective,” DeSantis said. “I think it has been taken over by ideology, and I think that is a turnoff for many people. … We are saying teaching is not about learning quote, unquote education in college, it’s really about having proficiency in subjects and then learning on the ground about how to do it.” DeSantis did not provide the proposed legislation, which he suggested would be up for consideration in the legislative session that starts in March.

But he said the criteria will be the same as for veterans, who currently need to have a bachelor’s degree or complete at least 60 hours of college credits — the equivalent of an associate’s degree — with a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 — and pass a Florida subject area examination and a background check. Eligible veterans would need 48 months of active-duty military service with an honorable discharge or a medical separation. Those requirements were approved by the Florida Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by DeSantis.

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