State to offer $5M to allow associate degree-holders to become teachers at no cost
Duval County Public Schools consider their top teachers of the year. Images via Florida Politics.

college students and teachers (Large)
The new pathway to get in front of a class started with legislation passed last Session.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is dedicating $5 million more to bolster a new pipeline for getting teachers in front of a class without a bachelor’s degree.

Last Session, the Legislature created another pathway to become a teacher — an apprenticeship program. Those who have an associate degree with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and a clean background check are eligible to spend two years in a classroom under the guidance of a mentor teacher to earn their professional teacher’s certificate.

This $5 million will go toward a no-cost option for 200 people a year to become teachers, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. The apprentices get paid like paraprofessionals and receive training without incurring educational debt. They are issued a temporary teaching certificate that gives them time to work toward their full certification.

This latest $5 million announcement comes after the state in October announced a $9 million investment in the same effort.

“Florida is proud to offer a hands-on teacher apprenticeship program that prioritizes classroom experience over university-based learning,” said DeSantis, according to a news release. “As the national leader in education, we will continue to support our teachers and make sure we have high-quality educators at every school in the state.”

Teacher shortages are happening all over the country. How much of a problem it is in Florida is the topic of some debate, however. At the beginning of the school year, last August, the Florida Department of Education said the number of teacher vacancies dropped by 10% since last year. But the state’s largest teachers union said they are at a record high.

Nevertheless, the state is starting new pathways to grow more teachers.

“Gov. DeSantis continues to prioritize Florida’s education system through innovative initiatives like the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grow Your Own Teacher Grant,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. in a prepared statement. “This funding will allow more aspiring educators to enter into a teaching career while alleviating teacher shortages.”

Legislation (HB 1035) signed earlier this year established the new apprenticeship pathway. Another measure now under consideration would make it so that someone in college, not yet holding an associate degree, would also be eligible to become a teacher through this apprenticeship program.

That legislation also established a fund that would pay bonuses to military veterans or first responders to become teaching apprentices on their way to becoming fully certified teachers.

Ten higher education institutions, both public and private, are getting the funding to bolster teacher apprentice training.

Republican Sen. Alexis Calatayud of Miami called the effort “visionary.”

“This initiative and funding allows colleges and universities to partner with their local school districts and charter schools to provide more opportunities to those aspiring to become teachers,” she said.

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].


  • michael Roberts

    December 13, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    this will further degrade the quality and abilities of who teaches children in this state.Coupled with the defunding of the public school system in Florida

    • Dee

      December 14, 2023 at 12:06 pm

      How so?

      • Rick Whitaker

        December 16, 2023 at 5:35 pm

        dee, the maga cult agenda is to degrade public schools so they can make money off private schools and also indoctrinate the states students with white christian nationalism. in florida it’s all about money and power. they don’t give a damn about teachers and students. have you not been paying attention like i have?

  • PeterH

    December 13, 2023 at 8:22 pm

    The only other State playing this “associates degree” teacher qualification is Arizona. Florida and Arizona!

    If this doesn’t work ….. what is plan “B” …… hiring third year high school students who have the intention to graduate?

    DeSantis will offer up private school vouchers as a remedy….. but there are zero student seats in private schools!

    Florida is feeling the impact of twenty years of failed Republican leadership. Republicans can’t point to a single red state that is an academic or economic success story!

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

    • Dee

      December 14, 2023 at 4:32 pm

      It’s allowing those to earn the degree while in the job training along side a veteran teacher. They still have to take all the required tests and pass them!

  • ScienceBLVR

    December 13, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    Another one trick pony ploy by our gov to put less than qualified people in a classroom.. haven’t heard much about DeSantis’s program making veterans with no classroom experience into educators. Wonder how that’s going? Like I said, classrooms aren’t barracks and students aren’t soldiers. Quit treating teachers like criminals and maybe they wouldn’t be quitting in droves!

    • My Take

      December 13, 2023 at 10:25 pm

      Next it will be two years as a cop or preacher.
      But now lets try this with làwyers.

  • Michael K

    December 13, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    Stupid idea. What a MoRon.

  • My Take

    December 14, 2023 at 12:16 am

    Old farts from elsewhere, move to Florida, bring your pension or retirement savings. You don’t need a good job any more. Vote against aný school spending*: your kids are done and your grandkids live in another state.
    Young people with or wanting kids, move to a better state, for the kids sakes.
    *Admiranbly, not Jewish retirees, who value education for society and are willing to pay their share for it.

  • My Take

    December 14, 2023 at 5:15 am

    The GOP, and especially MAGA, have some interesting animal-population analogs.
    The internal social structure and interconnection has some clear parallels witn naked mole rat colonies.
    But here, with respect to society’s children, it is tne komodo dragon that fits the GOP behavior, at least figuratively. Researchers have found that 10-15% of an adult komodo dragon’s diet consists of young komodo dragons!!
    The GOPs of course parasitise resources and degrade futures sans the active teethwork.

  • Cass

    December 14, 2023 at 1:32 pm

    So instead of just paying teachers enough and giving them better benefits (like why can’t teachers be on state insurance like police?) he throws money at unqualified people to step in and teach while they learn? There’s not a shortage of teachers, there’s a shortage of teachers willing to work for wages that don’t allow them to work only 1 job.

Comments are closed.


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