Gov. DeSantis, Democratic gubernatorial candidates differ on how to fix Florida’s teacher shortage

Published: Aug. 21, 2022 at 12:44 AM EDT

Orlando, Fla. (Gray DC) - According to the most recent data from the state’s department of education, Florida is short nearly 4,500 teachers. It is a problem Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has recently promised to address. Meanwhile, his main Democratic challengers say they have their own ideas on how to fix the issue.

Governor DeSantis says he is focused on giving teachers more moneymaking opportunities while recruiting law enforcement and military veterans to fill the remaining void.

This week, the governor proposed three ideas to fix Florida’s teacher shortage: give first responders with bachelor’s degrees as much as $5,000 signing bonuses, create a teacher apprenticeship program for Floridians with associate’s degrees, and launch a scholarship program so high school teachers can get their master’s degrees.

“The idea that somehow you can never set foot in the classroom until you finally have that four-year degree, you know, I don’t agree with that,” said DeSantis.

Those plans are coupled with an initiative launched last month to help vets get temporary teaching certificates. However, Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar says the governor’s new policies on what teachers can and cannot teach are part of the problem.

“This attempt to divide a wedge between parents and schools, parents and teachers, and create division and chaos on school boards is not something we should embrace,” said Spar.

And Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried say the state needs to increase teacher’s salaries and overall school funding while decreasing our teachers’ workload.

“People are leaving. And if we aren’t having qualified teachers teaching in the classrooms, we are doing such a disservice to the future of our state,” said Fried.

“They work hard every single day to educate our children. And the governor’s turned his back on them. That’s not right,” said Crist.

The average starting salary for a Florida teacher has increased over the last three years. It is now at least $47,000 which is ninth in the nation. Governor DeSantis says he will have another announcement on the matter in the coming weeks.