Bill advances to make associate degree-holders eligible for teaching certification

The bill would take the last two years of college and turn them into a paid apprenticeship.

An effort to solve the teacher shortage crisis at the state’s public schools would mean loosening the requirement that teachers need a bachelor’s degree, according to a bill advancing in the Senate.

Republican Sen. Alexis Calatayud has introduced legislation (SB 244) that echoes many of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ educational priorities. It also adds news bonuses for first responders and military veterans who want to pursue a teaching career.

The bill received unanimous support in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Appropriations at its second committee stop.

“This bill is focused on the future of our state — our kids,” Calatayud said. “This bill creates a pipeline into teaching that’s needed to make sure our school districts and our children have what they deserve.”

Teachers who achieve at least a 3.0 grade point average will be eligible to be mentored for two years in the classroom of a teacher with at least seven years experience.

Instead of paying for an additional two years of college, the apprentice will be paid as a member of a school’s support staff. And the class that the apprentice takes on with his or her mentor teacher can be 1.5 times larger than state class size limitations allow.

Right now, a bachelor’s degree is required for either of the Educator Certificates the state offers, unless the candidate falls under the program for military veterans that the Legislature approved last Regular Session (SB 896).

The bill earned kudos all around from Calatayud’s fellow Republicans.

“We need to grow our own in the state of Florida and this is a wonderful way to do it,” said Sen. Gayle Harrell, who represents Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties.

The state is currently facing a teacher shortage that seems to be worsening, according to information from the state’s most prominent teachers union. The midyear counts from the Florida Education Association show educator vacancies have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2020, the union counted 2,448 vacancies, compared to 5,294 last month.

But a spokeswoman from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) last month called reports of a teacher shortage “a myth generated by media activists and teachers’ unions.”

“As of Sept. 1, the total number of teacher vacancies in Florida was 4,442, as reported by school districts. For context, Florida has roughly 185,000 teachers and the state’s vacancies on Sept. 1 represented approximately 2.4% of teaching positions, which is also around 1.2 open positions per school on average,” said Cassie Palelis, FDOE Press Secretary, noting the vacancy rate is half the rate of the rest of the country.

Calatayud’s bill does not yet have a House companion.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • PeterH

    March 21, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    Lowering teacher standards does not equate to better education. Only Florida and Arizona are in this hiring pickle. What do these two states have in common?

    • James P. Turner

      March 23, 2023 at 12:57 pm

      Uh ok. We’re waiting. What do they have in common? Both have deserts? No. Both have oceanfront property? No. Please enlighten us.

    • Beverly WAgner

      March 26, 2023 at 10:50 am

      Pay existing teachers what they deserve and you will have enough teachers without lowering the standards. Our students deserve teachers with the right credentials!!!

  • Marconi

    March 21, 2023 at 5:38 pm

    Why not? We have dumbed down everything else. Sure if Johnny and Jane can’t read now, allowing a community college grad to teach them will certainly bring them up to grade level standards….NOT.

    And by the way, changing the names of our community colleges to “state colleges”, amounts to nothing more than painting over the stripes on a zebra.

  • cassandra

    March 21, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    Will the “Parental Rights in Education” law protect parents’ right to have their child taught by a professional teacher? Children’s education will suffer if OJT “staff” personnel replace qualified teachers in their classrooms. Will parents lose the right to choose what’s best for their child?

    BTW, since FDOE denies a teacher shortage, why does DeSantis want to fill Florida classrooms with dropouts and people who are unable to pass university level courses?

  • Sandra

    March 21, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    A two-year degree requires about 36 credit hours of introductory gen ed classes. A four-year degree requires research papers and higher-level classroom lecture and discussion. A teaching credential specifies mastery of classroom management theory and actual student teaching. There is no reason to place teachers with only two years of training and 2.0 GPAs in front of our students.

  • Dawn

    March 22, 2023 at 6:31 pm

    Ugh, another new way to break education because massive testing and felony charges for teachers who let kids check out books didn’t work. Now they dumb teachers down. They’re trying everything they can to privatize education.

  • James P. Turner

    March 23, 2023 at 12:56 pm

    Nice comments from some arrogant people. Did you read the bill or even the article? The two year degree is the entry to an apprentice-level position. It is a way to grow a pipeline of talent. EVERY industry is having personnel challenges. You have to try different things to see what works. And by the way y’all are nice for crapping on associate degree holders. I would take the average one over any of you for whatever role I have rather than you.

  • Beverly WAgner

    March 26, 2023 at 10:53 am

    YOu are the arrogant one. HOw can you compare a 2 year degree with a bachelor’s in education? Do your research on the education degree before you comment.

Comments are closed.


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