Governor DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran announced while visiting a school in Middleburg that they wanted to raise beginning teacher salary to 47,500 moving Florida from 26th to second in the nation in that category. Sounds great right? Accept the devils in the details and there are a lot of devils in the few details he announced.
First the governor said his proposal would give 100 thousand teachers a raise. Well a big problem there is Florida has over 175 thousand public school teachers. Florida’s veteran teachers who have seen their salaries actually go backwards over the last decade would get nothing from the governors headline grabbing proposal.
Then the governor did not mention how he planned to pay for his proposal which was estimated to cost about six hundred million dollars. Now he could find some of that money by ending the nearly universally reviled and ridiculed best and brightest bonus that originally used teachers SAT scores but later changed into a complicated formula factoring an entire schools growth scores. Both versions left out thousands of effective and highly effective teachers. Furthermore the speaker of the Florida House Jose Olivia didn’t seem to enthusiastic as he said like all the governors proposals the house would consider it.
Another large flaw in the plan is the state cannot determine teacher salaries as it violates their collective bargaining rights. Salaries are something by law Districts and teacher’s representatives, their unions negotiate for. Now I guess if the governor does find the funding and pass something through he could also pass another law stripping districts of their power to negotiate salaries but I am not sure if the legislature would have the appetite for that during an election year.
I also don’t think just raising salaries will make that much of a difference. Not with teachers being stripped of autonomy, creativity, and work protections and forced to endue runaway accountability on steroids. Pay is a big problem, but its not the only big problem if you know what I mean.
If DeSantis were serious about attracting new teachers and keeping veterans, he would insist the state legislature add a thousand dollars to the per pupil formula, which would take us to about a 2007 level of spending, that’s right friends we would have to add a gran to get back to 12 year old spending levels, and let unions and districts hammer it out. I bet they wouldn’t exclude veteran teachers or support staff many of whom don’t make a living wage. Instead of coming up with a serious solution however, DeSantis went with a headline, that leaves out 40 percent of teachers, the house isn’t behind and that legally he can’t initiate.
We need serious solutions and we need serious people to come up with them. A governor who uses smoke an mirrors and is only looking for a photo op and headlines does a disservice and does nothing to help the problem.
Florida’s teachers, some of the worst paid and most put upon in the nation deserve better, all of them, not just a few of them.