One Veteran’s Experience – Teaching in Florida Schools

The Florida Education Association (FEA) says more than 450,000 students may head back to school without a full-time teacher in place. 

FEA Vice President Carole Gauronskas says COVID is partially to blame for many teachers retiring early and students not pursuing the field.

“Ask the scientists, ask the doctors, and ask the educators what it is like to be in that classroom with poor ventilation with 26 children or more – many classes will have 30 or more students – and until we’re asked at that table with the legislators, I would say, you do your work, let us do our work. We went to school for four years plus, we know what we’re doing, let us do it.”

She says the other reason is simple: teachers aren’t paid enough or respected enough considering the time they put in.

“Overall, there are approximately 450,000 children who will not have a certified full-time teacher in their classrooms on the first day of school. So that roughly translates into almost 5,000 teaching positions that are open and more than 3,700 support staff positions.”

The State of Florida is now allowing qualified military veterans to obtain 5-year temporary teaching certificates to serve as substitute teachers without having completed a college degree. The move comes as Florida works to find solutions to a statewide teacher shortage.

A recent FEA survey found some 13.5 percent of English classes and 8.1 percent of math classes statewide are taught by teachers who are not certified in those subjects.

On August 18, 2022 – The Biden Administration’s U.S. Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, praised Florida’s plan to encourage veterans to work in the classrooms. Cardona stated, “I don’t have the details of the Florida program specifically. I love anything that’s going to provide opportunities for those who are looking into the teaching profession, ensuring that they’re connected to good teacher preparation programs that teach pedagogy and ensuring that the educators have the skills needed to meet the needs of our students.”

A month later, Cardona expressed this view, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona criticized efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to allow veterans without college degrees to teach in Florida public schools, saying the initiative lowers standards for teachers.

“The moment we start lowering standards to get [into teaching], we’re doubling down on the disrespect to the profession,” Cardona said. “I’m all for veterans becoming teachers … but let’s let’s remember when the nation’s report card is showing that our students have dropped drastically to provide educators who are not qualified or trained in the pedagogy of teaching is a slap in the face to the profession.” Cardona sounds like the FDA – wear a mask, don’t wear a mask indoors, wear a mask in the restaurant – never mind let’s listen to doctors.

Discrimination – the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability:

Discrimination in the workplace – The discrimination in favor of or against an employee based on a group, category, or class to which the individual belongs, rather than on individual merit.

According to federal and state laws, it is illegal for an employer to treat a person unequally based on his or her race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that no person employed by, or seeking employment with, a company that has 15 or more employees can be discriminated against based on any of these factors. While federal law prohibits discrimination in the workplace, most states have enacted their own laws regarding workplace discrimination.

Discrimination in the workplace covers any work related issues, and it is important for employers to take care that the company handbook, policies, and practices are uniform, regardless of employee race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability. Even a policy that applies to all employees, regardless of these factors may be illegal if it creates a negative impact on the employees. For example, if an employer has a hair style policy that applies to all employees, it may be unlawful if the policy is not job related, and impacts a certain race due to a predisposition of natural hair types.

A veteran posted his story to Facebook:

Discrimination of a disabled veteran, sexism and nepotism by the Palm Beach School District.

Brothers and sisters. I wanted to both inform you and reach out for help about a case of discrimination against me that is in many ways likely to impact our veteran community as they utilize Governor Desantises incentives to hire veterans as teachers.

On Tuesday 09/06 I was told I would be moved to a different school in my district due to low enrollment numbers. I am being replaced by a 24 year old teacher who was hired last year at the same time as me but as a reading teacher.

I have a masters degree in curriculum and instruction, a bachelor’s degree in political science, an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, Two deployments, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. I broke my back on July 4th 2010 in country. I hold a 5 year professional renewable certification in the state of Florida.

The girl whose mother works at the school has two three year temporary non renewable teaching licenses. She does not have a masters degree, she has no military service yet my principal told me her credentials were more valuable than mine and that she would replace me. I was given no choice. No consideration was made for the fact I am a disabled veteran or that I have a service dog.

I am not looking for anyone’s pity. I don’t want money or financial assistance. I refuse to take this lying down. What was done to me is bound to happen at an accelerated rate as veterans begin to enter the Florida School system. I want you to know what is in store for us.

I would truly appreciate anyone who could get me an audience with our Governor or other state and federal representatives. If anyone has connections in the media, please send them to me. If you have any experience with discrimination lawsuits yourself, Please let me know how it went for you.

I am not looking for any cheap or free legal assistance. I want to know who the most ruthless discrimination lawyer is in our area. I am looking for that person specifically. Money is not an issue, they will see the major potential of my case. Thank you so much to all of you for taking the time to listen.

Dealing with Discrimination in the Workplace

If an employee is dealing with discrimination in the workplace, he should carefully document all instance of the discrimination or harassment. This may be done by writing down the date, time, and details of each discriminatory act, as well as by keeping copies of voicemails, emails, text messages, as well as any physical evidence, which prove the discrimination. Such documentation, as well as a list of other people who may have witnessed the acts, may be important to an investigation.

The employee should report workplace discrimination, in writing, to his employer right away, keeping a copy of the notice. This ensures that, even if the problem has to be reported to a higher authority, the employer cannot claim ignorance of the situation.

While the state in which the victim is employed may have an agency assigned to investigate discrimination in the workplace, the victim can always contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). The EEOC oversees compliance with anti-discrimination laws. Many state employment agencies are able to provide information to both employers and employees, and guide them in reporting workplace discrimination.

Source:

Prieur, D. (2021, August 11). Florida has a critical shortage of teachers. Here’s why. Hint: One of the reasons begins with the letters COVID-19. 90.7 WMFE. https://www.wmfe.org/florida-has-a-critical-shortage-of-teachers-heres-why-hint-one-of-the-reasons-begins-with-with-covid-19/187744

The White House. (2021, July 23). FACT SHEET: How the Biden-Harris administration is advancing educational equity. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/07/23/fact-sheet-how-the-biden-harris-administration-is-advancing-educational-equity/

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/education/cardona-florida-hire-veterans-teachers

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