A new law in Florida will allow U.S. military veterans to obtain a temporary teaching certificate without a bachelor's degree, as long as they meet other education requirements. However, contrary to erroneous reports, military spouses are not eligible for the "Educator Certification Pathways for Veterans" program.
In July 2022, a new law was enacted in Florida that makes it easier for veterans to become teachers in that state. As news reports and social media posts started to circulate about this law, so did confusion about exactly what it entails. Are the spouses of veterans allowed to bypass degree requirements to become teachers? If so, what sort of training or education is required?
In short, Florida's new law allows U.S. military veterans who do not have a bachelor's degree to obtain a teacher's certificate if they meet other requirements, such as passing a subject area examination demonstrating a bachelor's level of education. However, while Florida does waive certification fees for veterans' spouses (as well as active-duty military personnel and their spouses), only veterans themselves are eligible for the Military Veterans Certification Pathway program.
Florida Senate Bill 896
This rumor pertains to bill SB 896 which "provides an alternative pathway for veterans seeking subject area certification by removing the requirement for a baccalaureate degree for issuance of their temporary educator certificate." In order to qualify for the program, potential teachers must have served at least four years in the military and must have completed some college education. Furthermore, people teaching under these temporary certificates must be assigned a teaching mentor.
Minimum of 48 months of 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
Employment in a Florida school district, including charter schools
Military spouses are mentioned in SB 286, but only in the section stating that Florida will waive fees for spouses.
Why the Confusion?
Shortly after this law went into effect, several news outlets reported that both former military members and their spouses would be able to take advantage of this program and receive a temporary teacher's certificate without a bachelor's degree. Before issuing a correction, the Gainesville Sun reported: "Last week, the Florida Department of Education announced that military veteran[s], as well as their spouses, would receive a five-year voucher that allows them to teach in the classroom despite not receiving a degree to do so."
A number of local news outlets also repeated this error as they republished a story from News Nation. On social media, one viral Facebook post claimed that a military spouse with no educational background had actually been awarded a teaching position after only 12 hours of classroom observation.
The Florida DOE told us that the above rumor is "completely false" and that the Military Veteran Certification Pathway "is not available for spouses of military veterans."
Confusion over this law appears to stem from some poor wording on the Florida DOE website. After this new law was enacted, the website contained a section entitled "Military Personnel, Veterans & Spouses" which summarized the various aspects of the new law. Here's how the DOE website looked on July 15, 2022:
While not explicitly stated, it's easy to see how this text may have been misinterpreted, as the title includes "spouses," the main text includes "spouses," and the one underlined section states "not yet earned their bachelor's degree."
This page has been reworked to more clearly state the impacts of this legislation. In fact, a bolded sentence has been added to the DOE website stating "Military spouses and families are not eligible for this certification pathway." Here's how the page looked on July 28, 2022:
The Gainesville Sun published the following correction to their story: "Correction: An earlier version of this article stated spouses of veterans could receive a five-year teaching voucher. The Florida Department of Education, however, has clarified that spouses are only eligible for fee waivers."