Mariantonia Mejia | Staff Writer
A friendly relationship between the military and public schools is incredibly reckless and dangerous. The newest legislation, the Military Veterans for Teacher Certification Program, is just another avenue for low-income communities to be targeted by military indoctrination.
The Military Veterans Certification Pathway would allow “qualified candidates” who haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree, to obtain a 5-year temporary teaching certificate that will apparently address a state-wide teacher shortage.
Teenagers are particularly familiar with the military’s recruitment practices from the moment they enter high school. This predatory behavior is nothing new. Because of the excessively patriotic nature of this country, we have been taught to view these behaviors as normal.
High school aged children and their developing brains are nowhere near ready to make decisions about serving the country; plus, allowing unqualified military personnel access to even younger children puts them at an even bigger risk of pursuing pre-matured life decisions made for them.
Those in active service experience a higher risk for mental health complications such as substance abuse and suicide. Further, the sole possibility of life threatening danger that comes with active duty is an insane task to make for someone whose prefrontal cortex hasn’t even fully developed.
Majority of minority schools, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods, are targeted by recruiters because of scholarship opportunities that serving can provide, which is their biggest strategy. With this in mind, if the incentive of a job is given, there is nothing stopping recruiters from targeting even younger kids by becoming temporary teachers.
Aside from the exploitative history of the military around minors, there is quite literally nothing about military training that prepares someone to deal with and teach children. Many veterans who participated in this program did not even have leadership roles whilst active, meaning their main job was to take orders for however many years until they were discharged.
Unfortunately, because the military trains soldiers for little else other than defending our country, these responsibilities are not useful tools in many civilian fields, especially teaching.
Even if these veterans do have leadership experience, there is still a huge difference between being in charge of fully grown adults that only have to follow instructions, and children, who you actually have to teach.
Along with this, many educators and education majors are upset about this legislation, as it is also viewed as deeply unfair to those that have spent 5+ years educating themselves to be in the field, as well as to those that are currently in the field with many years of experience.
Soldiers, lieutenants, generals, or even engineers, cooks and doctors have no business teaching and molding young minds when they have not received the proper training and absolutely do not have the proper skills to handle children.
A veteran who has not been taught on education in their life will never know more than a pre-service teacher, those enrolled in education programs but lack the fieldwork for them to become full-fledged teachers.
It doesn’t make sense for us to be in desperate need of teachers and, rather than employing recent education graduates that have legit experience in teaching, we make exceptions — so the military can have access to vulnerable children.
The Florida education system has reached a new low, with Gov. Ron DeSantis going from signing the oppressive Don’t Say Gay bill to recklessly allowing unqualified military personnel to be in charge of teaching our kids. It’s increasingly frightening, and worrisome, to watch the quality of our schools decrease almost daily.
The future of our education majors is at risk, with these dedicated aspiring teachers being forced to compete against inexperienced veterans with an advantage compared to everyone else.
Further, the future of the next generation is at risk if we continue to show them that we could care less about their safety if we continue to pass damaging legislation.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.