The claim: A Florida law allows military veterans' spouses to receive teaching certificates without bachelor's degrees
On July 1, a new Florida law took effect that allows military veterans to receive five-year teaching certificates without a bachelor's degree. Soon after this initiative was announced, its details became muddled across social media.
One user on Facebook shared a post describing a claimed occurrence in a Florida classroom as a result of the law.
"Today in my classroom, I had a soon to be teacher observe me in my classroom for 2 hours," the July 27 post claims. "She did not have a bachelor's degree. Her husband did 4 years in the military 30 years ago. The state of Florida gave her a five-year teaching certification because she's married to a veteran... The only thing she had to do to get this teaching certification was to observe certified teachers and their classrooms for a total of 12 hours."
The occurrence described in the viral claims cannot have happened, however. Spouses and family members are ineligible for the program created by Florida Senate Bill 896.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.
New law doesn't apply to spouses
The Florida Department of Education website states that in order to be eligible for the Military Veterans Certification Pathway, veterans must meet several criteria:
Minimum of 48 months of U.S. active duty military service with an honorable/medical discharge
Minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade-point average
Passing score on a subject area exam(s) of their choice
Evidence of employment in a Florida school district
Cleared background screening
If accepted, the law requires veterans to be assigned to a teaching mentor for a minimum of two years.
The wording on the Florida education website was initially misleading, as it announced a plan to "provide opportunities for members of the United States Armed Forces, veterans and their spouses to become part of our team." This wording was present on the website as recently as July 18, but as of July 28, an extra disclaimer was added.
"Military spouses and families are not eligible for this certification pathway," the update reads.
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There is a separate act, titled the Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Military Family Opportunity Act, that allows military personnel, veterans and their spouses to request waivers for initial certification fees and certification examination fees.
Cassie Palelis, an education department spokesperson, reiterated the requirements for eligibility for the Military Veterans Certification Pathway via email with USA TODAY.
"With the Military Veterans Certification Pathway, veterans will have five years to fulfill the requirements for a professional certificate, including obtaining a Bachelor's degree," Palelis said. "The Military Veteran Certification Pathway is not available for spouses of military veterans, unless they also meet the requirements stated above. Florida offers fee waivers for initial certification fees and certification exam fees for military personnel, veterans and their spouses."
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a Florida law allows military veterans' spouses to receive teaching certificates without bachelor's degrees. Though the wording on the Florida education department website was initially misleading, the law never allowed spouses to receive these certificates, only veterans. So the scenario presented in the post cannot have taken place.
Our fact-check sources:
The Florida Senate, accessed July 29, CS/SB 896 - Educator Certification Pathways for Veterans
Florida Department of Education, July 18, Military Personnel, Veterans & Spouses (archived version)
Florida Department of Education, July 28, Military (archived version)
Florida Department of Education, accessed July 29, Military
The Florida Senate, accessed July 29, CS/HB 29: Military and Veterans Affairs
Cassie Palelis, July 29, Email exchange with USA TODAY
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Florida SB 896 doesn't apply to veterans' spouses