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Op-Ed: New DeSantis Plan to Help Struggling Police Officers Has 2 Huge Benefits

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Police officers have it very rough right now.

Along with performing in the line of duty and putting their lives on the line every day, they face continuous scrutiny from hate groups. On top of that, the government provides little to no assistance in terms of getting them new gear or providing new hiring initiatives. Shockwaves have gone through both New York and Chicago with a record number of resignations, officer suicides and seemingly insurmountable working conditions — including ridiculously long work hours.

It’s enough to make anyone go nuts. However, there’s an interesting new alternative that I really hope finds some ground — and could give police officers an ideal way to use their experience for the greater good.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced a new plan to give retired police officers, firefighters and EMTs an opportunity to teach in public schools.

He’s currently working on trying to ease regulations in an effort to bring in these first responders to fill vacant teacher positions. Considering there are a lot of vacancies and classes are starting back up, there’s no question that they’re needed now more than ever.

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DeSantis signed a law earlier this year allowing military veterans to earn a five-year temporary certificate to teach before earning the required bachelor’s degree. With his help, police officers and first responders will soon be able to do the same.

In the meantime, current officers interested in the program will need said bachelor’s degree. However, those who have one will be able to earn a $4,000 bonus for signing up, as well as an additional $1,000 depending on placement in schools that are suffering from any shortage.

“We believe that the folks that have served our communities have an awful lot to offer,” DeSantis noted.

And I am in full agreement. What’s more, this initiative offers a two-fold benefit.

On the one hand, law enforcement officers have a world of experience, and not only in certain political subjects. Some study history. Others can teach a thing or two about human relations. There’s so much that can be covered here that it’s mind-boggling.

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But there’s also something deeper than that — an alternative.

As I noted above, officers are going through unspeakable conditions right now just trying to keep the peace. If it’s too much for some, teaching could be a worthwhile direction for them to take their career. One that involves a great deal of responsibility, but also a little bit of peace of mind. They’d be using their expertise to help prepare children for the future. That’s really something.

Of course, there are some opposed to the idea. Carmen Ward, president of the Alachua County teachers’ union, said some teachers are “dismayed” by DeSantis’ initiative due to “someone with just a high school education” being able to pass a test and easily obtain a five-year temporary certificate.

To these teachers, I say, look — we are not trying to replace you. Obviously, teachers should be able to keep their jobs. But schools are in a rough spot right now. Teacher recruitment is at an all-time low in Florida. And that means some of them are running ragged. So why can’t a former police officer or first responder help out?

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And, to make it clear, these officers would still need the education to teach. They can’t just make the shift without putting in the effort. It’s not a matter of getting anyone off the street and having him teach biology. There’s a program in place here and, honestly, it would serve everyone.

In fact, I’d love to see this program take effect in other states that require school assistance. Teachers could certainly use the help, and it would do some police officers a world of good as well. It’s a way we can help each other and shape children’s future — and give some that much-needed second chance to put their skills to greater use.

I’m all in. Are you?

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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