The teaching profession is one of the most important jobs in our country. Teachers help shape the lives of our children, which in turn impacts our own lives when we grow older, as well as those of future generations. The impact they have on society cannot be underestimated or underappreciated.
The way we treat and respect our teachers impacts the way our children learn. It’s natural to expect that the people who are tasked with educating future generations be treated with the utmost respect. Given that, you might be surprised to learn that Florida’s public school teachers currently rank 46th in the nation in average salary.
- Low pay is one of the reasons there is a teacher shortage in Florida that is reaching crisis levels. In January of this year, there were over 2,000 open positions across the state (more than 700 vacancies than the same time last year). This impacted over 200,000 students. The Florida Education Association is predicting 10,000 openings at the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year.
- Retaining highly qualified teachers keeps them in the profession longer, allowing them to impart their knowledge in the classroom.
- Higher pay will attract more people to the profession and allow for a larger selection of candidates.
- Higher pay will mean teachers are less likely to move to other states to accept the same job for higher pay.
- As pay increases, so does respect for the profession.
Adapted from Heather Lambert’s letter, posted in Fight for Florida Public School Teachers
My name is ____________ and I am a public school parent in ________ County, Florida. As you are certainly aware, Florida’s public teachers now rank 46th in the nation when it comes to average salary, despite the facts that we are: 1) the third largest state by population; 2) have a one trillion dollar economy; 3) and school districts are almost always the single largest employer in any given county.
The fact that teachers are paid so poorly in our state impacts our children. Low pay has been stated as one of the reasons for the teacher shortage, which has reached crisis levels. Higher pay will attract more people to the profession and allow for a larger selection of candidates. It will also mean more respect for the profession, which will in turn have a positive impact on the classroom environment and the education our children receive. As a parent, it’s critical to me that my child have a highly qualified and well-respected teacher in the classroom.
While it is often the standard response by state legislators to address these concerns with local school boards, it is the Florida Legislature that has principally caused the current state of affairs due to continuous under-funding, particularly since the Great Recession of 2008. In 2014 Florida led the nation at -26.3% (yes, negative) for inflation adjusted spending when combing both state and local totals; as of this year, it has since dropped to -22.9%. Had the Florida Legislature continued to keep pace with inflation and properly funded our schools, school districts would be in a better position to provide better pay to teachers.
Over the last decade, costs have continued to rise while funding has not kept pace with inflation, thereby doubling the harm caused by lack of funding. It’s time for the Florida Legislature to properly invest in our children and the future of our workforce.
Please ensure that—at a minimum—next session the Florida Legislature adds at least 10% to the Base Student Allocation in addition to specific monies for categoricals. Local districts need better funding and flexibility if they are to offer competitive salaries that acknowledge the expertise and professionalism of the people having a daily impact on our children.
Concerned citizen and taxpayer