Jay Collins slams Karla Hernández-Mats over veteran remarks, demands Janet Cruz condemn words

'This is unacceptable and I call on Janet to join me in immediately condemning these arrogant statements.'

Are past comments by Charlie Crist’s running mate causing problems for other Democrats on the ballot?

Republican state Senate candidate Jay Collins slammed comments made by Karla Hernández-Mats criticizing a plan to allow veterans to teach without full accreditation. Crist, the Democratic nominee for Governor, named Hernández-Mats as his pick for Lieutenant Governor on Saturday.

Furthermore, he’s demanding state Sen. Janet Cruz, the Tampa Democrat he aims to unseat, speak out on the remarks.

“Senator Janet Cruz represents MacDill Air Force Base and one of the largest veteran communities in the state, but she remains silent over Karla Hernández-Mats’ comments that our veterans would be ‘de-professionalizing’ the careers of educators,” said Collins, a Green Beret running on his own veteran status.

“This is unacceptable and I call on Janet to join me in immediately condemning these arrogant statements.”

Shortly after Hernández-Mats was selected, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign highlighted remarks to MSNBC where she slammed the plan to allow combat veterans to teach during an ongoing teacher shortage.

“This is them de-professionalizing our careers,” Hernández-Mats said. “Teachers have gone to school for four years. They have their bachelor’s, they have master’s, they have doctoral degrees. And to think that somebody who has four years of combat experience would do well in our schools is actually very disrespectful to our educators, to our teachers.”

Cruz’s campaign defended the Senator as a champion of Veterans.

“In Tallahassee, Senator Janet Cruz works across party lines to advocate and fight for military families, including Jay Collins’,” said Cruz spokesperson Ashley Bauman.

“Just this past year alone, she not only advocated for making it easier for veterans to enter the teaching workforce, but she worked to pass legislation that filled the gap in educational benefits offered under the GI Bill for disabled veterans as well as championed legislation that prioritizes licensure applications and waives fees for active duty spouses so they can more easily enter the workforce. Nobody has a record of delivering results for our veteran community like Senator Janet Cruz.”

DeSantis this month has started encouraging veterans to follow a newly open Military Veterans Certification Pathway, which would allow a five-year teaching certificates to military veterans.

To qualify, veterans must have 48 months of military service with an honorable or medical discharge, 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average, a passing score on a Florida subject area examination, an approved background check and a job lined up with a Florida public school.

Notably, the program arose from legislation (SB 896) passed unanimously by the Legislature, including a 39-0 vote by the Senate, with Cruz in support.

Collins said Cruz needs to make clear she does not agree with Hernández-Mats about whether veterans should be teaching.

“We must improve our public education system, and that is why I am proud to support Governor Ron DeSantis’ initiative to expand the ranks of educators to include the brave veterans of our armed forces. The true culprit in de-professionalizing our educators are the special interest groups that prioritize teaching our five-year-olds about the birds and the bees instead of their ABCs and 123s,” he said.

“Any veteran who wishes to teach in Florida must meet standards beyond having served, and I’m sure that Ms. Hernández-Mats was aware of that since she is the president of the largest special interest teachers union in the Southeast. Instead, she willfully pushes the elitist narrative that veterans are uneducated and unqualified for any role in academia. Enough is enough.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Sgt. Brown

    August 29, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    I’m a veteran..and I will be applying for this program. I will be teaching Marxist economic and political theory, critical race theory, and compassion for LGBT kids. State won’t know what hit em….

  • Lynda

    August 29, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    I admire our veterans for their service, especially those who faced combat. My father used his G. I. bill to complete his education degree to teach math and science and taught 35 years until he retired. He also coached several sports which gave him another way to reach students reluctant to learn. If deSantis was proposing a FL G. I. Bill which allowed veterans to have time to obtain the knowledge and experience with students from a reputable educational institution before the veteran had to be responsible for 30 to150+ students daily, I would support his proposal.
    That is not what deSantis is proposing.

    DeSantis is taking too many short cuts just to get a warm body into Fl’s classrooms which are experiencing a serious crisis in teacher vacancies. I blame the controlling extreme right agenda of deSantis and his rubber stamp legislature as well as deSantis’s trashing of current teachers for the crisis creating the need for 9,000 more teachers than are willing to teach in Florida.

    I taught middle school and worked with special needs students before I chose to accept a better paid position with more respect from a major corporation. Attitudes towards teachers and pay for teachers weren’t that different in the 1970’s than they are today; with the exception that now right wing radicals are allowed to show in loud voices how much they disrespect teachers and the careers teachers choose to prepare our children for the world of the future– not the past.

    The misguided use of veterans to meet the current vacancy crisis for teachers in FL is just one more reason deSantis is unfit to continue to be Governor of FL and run for President. Charlie Crist has been a responsive representative for my District. I trust him to have his time and attention on FL and not running for President on the taxpayer dollars of FL’s voters.

  • tom palmer

    August 29, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    I’m a veteran and a college graduate, but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how to set up a lesson plan for a bunch of students at any level. I question whether the DeSantis plan is good public polidy.

  • Brandon

    August 29, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Democrats who voted to allow Veterans to teach should be asked about Karla Marx and her comments. They won’t be asked but by Election Day, voters will know.

Comments are closed.


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