In July of 2022, the Florida Department of Education passed a bill that would allow uncertified and non-degreed veterans to become teachers with only 60 credits. They do not even need a bachelor’s degree. This has created a tide of anger and frustration from teachers everywhere.
Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.” More than teaching general knowledge, a teacher’s main goal should be to lead students to higher order thinking. In short, to teach them how to think for themselves. Teachers are responsible for far more than imparting knowledge.
To date there are thousands of Florida teachers who have been forced to walk away from the profession. They have lost their jobs, their homes, their calling. They are working in menial jobs despite having years of experience in the classroom because they are unable to pass the state required general knowledge test.
The requirements for teachers in Florida are stringent. As they should be. I recognize the need to provide our veterans with employment, but is putting an untrained teacher in the classroom, responsible for the shaping of hundreds of young minds, the best answer?
As an English teacher (professor) of 17 years, I have not been able to pass the Math test. Complicated math that I have not even thought about in 40 years. Yet, I am a highly qualified teacher. I love my students and they love me. I now work as a substitute teacher and a tutor, struggling to make ends meet. I miss my classroom. I miss my students. As do thousands of other Florida teachers in the same position I am in.
So, I ask you this: Do we take someone who is not passionate about teaching and throw them in the classroom simply to give them a job? Or do we pull critically needed teachers from a pool of highly qualified, educated (many with master’s and doctoral degrees) that have been sidelined because of an archaic bureaucratic policy?
The education of our children is at stake here.