Florida abuses teachers and can't figure out why there's a teacher shortage - Florida Politics

Florida abuses teachers and can’t figure out why there’s a teacher shortage

At the rate Florida is hemorrhaging classroom teachers, it soon won’t matter that we can’t hire school bus drivers for $11.88 an hour, because there won’t be any classrooms worth taking the kids to.

Every week brings fresh reporting about Florida’s teacher shortage; none of it is a surprise to parents or policymakers who have been paying even the slightest bit of attention.

The teaching talent pool began to shrink in the mid-20th century as women’s professional options expanded into better-paying places. Still, girls and an increasing number of boys raised to revere teachers continued to pursue careers in the classroom.

Teaching reading to fidgety first-graders and science to 17-year-olds suffering from senioritis is hard duty under the best of circumstances. In recent years, it’s become close-to-impossible.

Technology and testing mandates change at warp speed, to the delight of stockholders in companies that sell technology and tests. There’s no money left for toilet paper and Kleenex, so teachers’ pay for those “amenities” personally.

Technology has also made it possible for helicopter parents to harass teachers at any hour of the day or night. Email is great for monster moms and douchey dads who wanted to bully teachers while wearing pajamas and drinking heavily. But it sucks down a lot of time that teachers need to grade papers and attend “trainings” on their uncompensated time.

It’s hard to maintain teacher morale when the wage gap in the public-school system is closing in on the wage gap in the private sector. In Miami, for example, Superintendent and Fashion Plate Alberto Carvalho can afford to dress like Rico Suave on his $345,000 salary. Teachers making $40K are lucky if they can keep up with their student loans.

Then there’s the daily dose of defamation heaped upon teachers by folks looking to dismember the public-school system for the benefit of people whose salaries in privatized “education” make Carvalho’s pay look paltry.

There are limits to people’s willingness to be a piñata for paltry pay and no respect. Teachers could be forgiven if they decide to homeschool their own kids and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves.

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

12 Comments

  1. I am a Miami teacher leaving to Georgia because of everything mentioned here. I’ve been thrown under the bus by administration because it was easier on them. I’ve been praised twice in five years. I had a panic attack because there wasn’t any A/C and moved my students elsewhere to cool off and my administrator accused me of faking it. Everyday they announce breakfast is free. After I went and grabbed a yogurt, I was reported to the police for stealing. I worked with a teacher who stole canned food from the United Way collection. A lot of it. I reported it and I was ostracized. To this day that teacher has been harassing me. I could go on but I think you get the gist.

  2. It’s not rocket science. They know why teachers are leaving, but feigning ignorance gives them more weight to bear in their BS argument against public school teachers. “Take your kid to my private school, where I will do whatever you want and the State will pay for it! I’ll pay the teachers $12.50 an hour and keep the other $14,000 per student.”

  3. To say that it’s difficult to keep an upbeat, positive attitude regarding teaching in the “not-so-sunny for teachers” sunshine state, is akin to saying “A hurricane is a bit of wind.” A gross understatement. Politicians and profiteers started the full-scale slaughter, school districts greedily grasped the opportunity to reduce compensation and benefits for teachers while exponentially increasing teacher workloads and decreasing the time they need to do their jobs, and local unions failed in their due diligence in defending the rights of the teachers who pay their hefty salaries. The educators mean well, but this mantra of, “The kids will suffer if I don’t take it home!” needs to stop. Those assignments will still be there on Monday morning. Stop shouldering the guilt for taking back your lives because teachers are not the criminals hurting the students; the politicians, both parties, and the districts are the criminals who are injuring the children. And the media perpetrates the fallacy that teachers simply sit and drink coffee and read the paper while students do busy work. And the public buys it because it’s easier to turn a blind eye than to get involved. School districts no longer base decisions on how it affects anyone outside the central office, especially the bottom line. For example, the school district in which I teach refuses to pay A+ money to the teachers who have earned it, until April 14th; I believe the money was released to school districts in January, so why the delay? Just how much interest will hoarding the funds (that do not belong to the district anyway) enhance the district coffers? A valid question, I believe. Individuals who work in the private sector would not tolerate that treatment? (Morgan and Morgan would jump on that wouldn’t they?) Private-sector employees would call the labor board and file a grievance and win. Most teacher’s unions, especially in this county, won’t fight this latest slap in the collective faces of this county’s teachers. But teachers grumble, then let it pass, biting their tongues, so they do not appear negative or perceived as not being a team player. They resign or retire early or move to a different state where they may or may not be treated with more respect; many decide to teach overseas, the best option out there if you really want to teach in an environment of respect with excellent compensation and benefits. Ultimately, Florida should be labeled a “DON’T TEACH HERE ZONE!!!” If you really want to be a teacher, then go for it, but relocate to a different state or country if you ever hope to earn a living without having to work multiple jobs in order to survive. Let’s keep in mind as well that the high stress and anxiety levels plus gross disrespect are additional compelling reasons to just say “NO!!!” when lured to teach in Florida by false advertising from the FLDOE and school districts . In fact, a novel idea is to require Florida politicians to fill the void. I’ll bet they find money for raises during their (I’m sure to be short-lived) tenure as a Florida teacher.

  4. To say that it’s difficult to keep an upbeat, positive attitude regarding teaching in the “not-so-sunny for teachers” sunshine state, is akin to saying “A hurricane is a bit of wind.” A gross understatement. Politicians and profiteers started the full-scale slaughter, school districts greedily grasped the opportunity to reduce compensation and benefits for teachers while exponentially increasing teacher workloads and decreasing the time they need to do their jobs, and local unions failed in their due diligence in defending the rights of the teachers who pay their hefty salaries. The educators mean well, but this mantra of, “The kids will suffer if I don’t take it home!” needs to stop. Those assignments will still be there on Monday morning. Stop shouldering the guilt for taking back your lives because teachers are not the criminals hurting the students; the politicians, both parties, and the districts are the criminals who are injuring the children. And the media perpetrates the fallacy that teachers simply sit and drink coffee and read the paper while students do busy work. And the public buys it because it’s easier to turn a blind eye than to get involved. School districts no longer base decisions on how it affects anyone outside the central office, especially the bottom line. For example, the school district in which I teach refuses to pay A+ money to the teachers who have earned it, until April 14th; I believe the money was released to school districts in January, so why the delay? Just how much interest will hoarding the funds (that do not belong to the district anyway) enhance the district coffers? A valid question, I believe. Individuals who work in the private sector would not tolerate that treatment? (Morgan and Morgan would jump on that wouldn’t they?) Private-sector employees would call the labor board and file a grievance and win. Most teacher’s unions, especially in this county, won’t fight this latest slap in the collective faces of this county’s teachers. But teachers grumble, then let it pass, biting their tongues, so they do not appear negative or perceived as not being a team player. They resign or retire early or move to a different state where they may or may not be treated with more respect; many decide to teach overseas, the best option out there if you really want to teach in an environment of respect with excellent compensation and benefits. Ultimately, Florida should be labeled a “DON’T TEACH HERE ZONE!!!” If you really want to be a teacher, then go for it, but relocate to a different state or country if you ever hope to earn a living without having to work multiple jobs in order to survive. Let’s keep in mind as well that the high stress and anxiety levels plus gross disrespect are additional compelling reasons to just say “NO!!!” when lured to teach in Florida by false advertising from the FLDOE and school districts . In fact, a novel idea is to require Florida politicians to fill the void. I’ll bet they find money for raises during their (I’m sure to be short-lived) tenure as a Florida teacher.

    1. Intelligent people don’t want to be teachers when they can get a better paying job else where. Schools are attracting the bottom of the heap. And those that can’t pass it just go to private schools where they don’t even require a test.

      1. Katie, you have no idea what you are talking about. You are a prime example of the ignorant individual who continues to stereotype educators as being the bottom of the heap. We spend thousands of dollars preparing to be the best teachers we can. We don’t do this job because we are not intelligent; we teach to ignite a love of learning in young minds. Do yourself a favor and research an issue before you make a biased, uninformed statement; otherwise you make yourself look decidedly unintelligent.

  5. I am a teacher in Manatee County for over 25 years and I have watched our educational get worse with each passing year! Between the teacher Union, Administration, and the politicians they have destroyed education, teachers, and students desire to learn. I highly recommend people not to send their children to public schools! Everything you said in the article is true but it is only the tip of the iceberg! At the end of this school year I am done because I am so fed up with how corrupt and broken our system is! Perfect

    1. Private schools aren’t that much better unless you’re going to spend 35 K plus a year. My friend’s sister works at a catholic school because she can’t get a job in the public school system due to her inability to pass the GKT, which is a joke.

  6. When I took my first class on education back in the late 70s, there were two postal workers in the class. During the second week the Professor showed a list of 50 professions’ salaries in Florida and public school teachers were the 49th lowest. The postal workers never came back to class. Not much has changed.

  7. Here is an answer that can be done working with the legislature – this session…

    A strong, vibrant Florida starts in the classrooms across the state. If we want a robust economy today, and one that lasts beyond this generation, it will continue to take a large investment by the legislature and our governor. The legislature is searching for a solution to a dwindling amount of highly qualified, energetic, best and brightest teachers – the people who are in the classroom giving their heart and soul, and many times their own money, to make a better life for their students. When asked, your local teachers have the answers. These are solutions from both sides of the aisle, and do not come from another place than the classroom teachers who are asking for the following to be done during this session to enhance, encourage and create an environment that will retain, and help recruit, the best teachers to Florida.
    1. Performance enhancements. We believe that the Best and Brightest teacher program funding should be shifted to the pay for performance plan, where the teacher of each passing student on an FSA or Industry Certification would get a one time $25 per student bonus. The same bonus would also apply to the teachers of students who score in the top 25% of learning gains. This would replace the pay for performance plan.
    2. Salary. Many teachers were negatively affected by the economic downturn 8 years ago. At the time we understood why a salary freeze was necessitated. That period of time is over. It is now time to solve the issue by having a one time salary increase for those teachers employed during the last eight years equating to a four step raise on each district’s step/scale.
    3. Retirement benefits. The Florida Retirement System has been one of the most solvent in the country for decades, even during overall economic downturns. With the addition of teachers 3% contribution, we believe it only makes sense to restructure the retirement benefit for teachers to a change of full retirement from 30 years to 25 years, and that within this change, the retirement modifier move from 1.6% at 30 years to 2.0% at 25 years, with another increase in modifier to 2.5% at 30 years and beyond. Teachers who have retired since the 3% contribution was enacted would be grandfathered into the new scale.
    4. Restoration of continuing contracts for teachers. The growing crisis of the revolving door of the classroom is negatively impacting our students. Part of that can be attributed to the loss of stability many teachers are looking for – we believe the former period of three years, on an annual contract was an adequate probationary time for administrators to judge the effectiveness of teachers hired within a school or district. After the three years, a continuing contract should be granted to provide stability and due process rights for the teachers. This would also include teachers who move from district to district.
    Our community is a reflection of the long-term investment we put into the classroom. It is to all of our benefit to hire and retain inspiring, hard working teachers. If you agree, share this to your legislators, local business leaders, community leaders, teachers and administrators – we want this to be a combined effort for all of Florida.

  8. The same can be said for teachers in Missouri, too. I think it is not just a Florida problem, but an American problem.

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