(The Center Square) — The Florida House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education discussed workforce incentives, teacher incentives and apprenticeship programs Tuesday night.
Kevin O’Farrell, Chancellor of the Division Career and Adult Education at the Florida Department of Education provided the subcommittee with an update and a presentation on funding programs across Florida.
The Adult General Education Incentive Program is the first in the Sunshine State and had $5 million in funding appropriated during the 2023 regular session.
“Eligible agencies to receive the performance funding are school districts and Florida college system institutions that have adult education programs,” O’Farrell said. “These funds will be used on expanding the integrated education and training programs, also for equipment, instructional personnel, and related student support services.”
Funding is planned to roll out by December, and adult students can simultaneously enroll in a program that leads to a credential of value that will eventually lead to gainful employment.
The Teacher Apprenticeship Program established by House Bill 1035, and created a new pathway for individuals to enter into the teaching profession. If an individual meets the criteria to be part of the program, they will be essentially employed by the school district under the apprenticeship umbrella.
The Division of Public Schools will sponsor the student, partnering with local educational agencies to provide the related technical instruction. Students will be paired with an experienced teacher-mentor, and this will provide on-the-job training experience.
The apprenticeship program runs for two years, and according to O’Farrell, the goal at the end of that time period is to have that individual have the baccalaureate degree conferred upon them and also to be eligible to have the professional educator certificate in two years.
To become a teacher-mentor, applicants must meet the following criteria: seven years of teaching experience in Florida, a highly effective Value-Added Model score from the DOE, and complete clinical educator training.
The teacher apprenticeship program was split into two appropriations: The Teacher Apprenticeship Program and Mentor Bonus, which has been allocated $4 million and the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grow Your Own Teacher Apprenticeship Program which has been allocated $5 million.
Mentors will receive 50% of their allocated bonus after the first year, and the remaining 50% is paid to the mentor once the teacher apprentice completes the program and is hired by a school district or charter school in Florida.