DeSantis Proposes First Responder Bonuses, Mentorship Programs, and Scholarships to Help Recruit Teachers

August 16, 2022 Updated 9:58 AM ET

Gov. Ron DeSantis expands Bright Futures program.
Gov. Ron DeSantis expands Bright Futures program.

August 16, 2022 Updated 9:44 A.M. ET

NEW PORT RICHEY (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced proposed initiatives to help recruit teachers as schools across the state and country face shortages.

The first initiative includes recruiting first responders who have their bachelor’s degree. DeSantis said the state would waive the state teacher certification exam fees and those first responders would be eligible for a $4,000 bonus under the program. That bonus would jump to $5,000 if they teach courses that have acute shortages.

“We believe that folks who have served our communities have an awful lot to offer,” DeSantis said.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature approved an initiative last session to allow schools to hire veterans without degrees to help fill teaching gaps in the classrooms. It gives qualified veterans the ability to temporarily teach until they receive a college degree.

Florida Schools Allow Veterans to Temporarily Instruct Without Degrees to Help Ease Teacher Shortage

The second Initiative creates a teacher apprenticeship program which will allow Floridians with their associates degree to get professional experience teaching in a classroom under the mentorship of an experienced teacher.

“I believe that teachers that become great teachers don’t become great teachers because they’re sitting in some university lecture hall,” DeSantis said. “I think what makes a teacher great is actually being there, doing it, watching experienced teachers, and seeing what they do that works. Working directly with students.”

The apprentice will spend two years teaching under the leadership of another teacher. The teacher mentor will receive a $4,000 bonus for every person they mentor.

The third proposal includes a scholarship program to help current high school teachers earn their masters degree. It will allow them to teach dual enrollment classes at the high school where they currently work.

Dual enrollment allows students to gain college credit in high school and save some money. Students typically will travel between the high school campus and the college campus.

“Which is not always the easiest thing to do and particularly can be more challenging in more rural communities,” he said. “So this will expand dual enrollment opportunities for students because they’ll be able to get college credit without even having to leave their high school campus.”

Last school year more than 92,000 public school students participated in dual enrollment.

DeSantis wants state lawmakers to approve these proposals during the 2023 legislative session.

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