Gov. DeSantis of Florida recently signed legislation that allows retired military to teach school (K-12) outside of the existing requirements. Whether or not this is a good policy is a fun debate, but some would argue it is “thinking outside the box”. In that respect, I agree. Since I have more information regarding applying for teaching (and other) jobs in the State of Florida, here is my perspective.

As with teaching jobs (and a host of other jobs, both inside and outside of government), applications and the initial vetting process is done by Human Resources (some of these departments have fancy new names, but they are still HR). Most managers will say, away from corporate ears, the HR process is slow, inefficient and does not always provide suitable candidates. HR, when told of these criticisms, will politely suggest it is due to managers not updating job descriptions or current job requirements. HR is unsympathetic when managers inform HR they have little time to do all the required aspects of their daily jobs, much less update job descriptions. HR just shrugs and suggests if it is important, managers will find time.

HR is Teflon.

Why are teachers so difficult to hire? Could it be the abysmal pay? Fun fact, substitute teachers are paid $14/hour in one school district in Florida. For comparison, a part time Loew’s employee starts at $16/hour. Full time pay is not much better, at least for starting teachers. For those that love to say they only work half the year, I sympathize and think that is part of the problem. To teach in Florida, prior to recent legislation, a person needed a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification. This job is valued less than a stocker at Loews.

Others have suggested, teachers are leaving Florida due to the “Don’t say gay bill” (which I am pretty sure never uses those words). They may be correct. I know people that change jobs due to ideological differences. Teachers can generally move from State to State. It may cost seniority or other perks and may require an update to certification, but from what I have experienced and read, most States are happy to help to secure an experienced teacher. If some are moving due to the ideological differences, shouldn’t some people be moving to Florida too?

            [In my opinion, one of the main reasons for the lack of teachers is absence of personal responsibility on the part of student, parent, and administration. Teachers are the proverbial fall guy. If the student didn’t learn, it has to be the fault of the teacher. This is simply wrong and has been discussed in prior blog posts.]

Each day in the news the job situation is discussed. Obviously, HR is busy, people are quitting and getting hired. Everywhere the theme is business is hiring but no one wants to work. This is false. Case in point, a person applied for a maintenance worker job at a school district and after almost six weeks had still not heard anything. As in not a single email, text, or phone call. This same person discovers this school district is having a job fair and attends. HR, after being informed the person has applied, suggests the application will be forwarded to the maintenance manager for review.

What was being done with the application prior to the job fair?

Looking at the school district website, there are dozens (perhaps 100’s) of job openings posted. The school year started this week. What is the hold up? Why so slow? I know the school boards have been busy vetting library books since policy isn’t structured, or oversight strong enough, to manage this function without their oversight, but if positions are taking months to get filled, it may be time to examine job descriptions, prerequisites and perhaps compensation (nothing gets a managers’ attention quicker than the threat of budget reallocation). If they don’t want to be bothered, perhaps they could insist the Superintendent or principals examine them. As an old fiscal analyst, I would say if a position is vacant for months, it may be time to justify why it is needed at all.

The Legislature stepping up to develop a solution is interesting but where are the school boards? The Superintendents job is to manage the district, including personnel, where are their solutions? Are they the ones that suggested this? If so, they would never say as it would alienate them from the teachers’ union. It should not be too hard to figure out. Military personnel (and now I hear the desire is to add EMS personnel to the mix) may be a stopgap to the teacher shortage, but as with other policy issues, it needs more study. It is not a panacea and clearly shows a weakness in at least some school boards’ (and districts’) execution of assigned duties.

Perhaps this is where the Florida Legislature should have started.

Categorized as Policy

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