Teachers union poll finds educators enormously unhappy with Ron DeSantis

corcoran desantis
They don't like Richard Corcoran much better.

Teachers aren’t giving Gov. Ron DeSantis high marks this year.

A new poll from the Florida Education Association of its membership finds disappointment in the state’s priorities — and in how they personally have been treated amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Clearview Research poll found 76% of teachers in Florida disapprove of his job performance, and just 21% approve. That net -45 rating marks a dramatic shift from two years ago, when the then-newly inaugurated Governor had a 40% approve, 30% disapprove rating among FEA members.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran also has a net -36 percentage point approval rating, with 17% giving a favorable mark and 67% grading him unfavorably. The Florida Legislature, as session begins, holds a net negative rating among Florida’s teachers, with 19% approving and 74% disapproving,.

And teachers have a -36 percentage point net disapproval of the current conditions in Florida’s schools.

The poll includes responses from 506 FEA members, and pollsters report a 4.37% margin of error.

“Quite simply, respondents are not happy about the state of Florida and how they have been treated by lawmakers and the current administration,” reads a memo from pollsters Steve Vancore and Karen Garner. “They worry about their students, how the state treats our professional education staff, and they feel they are being disrespected at every turn.”

But educators are happy to open their own planning books to legislators and teach them about the needs in classrooms today.

“Teachers and support staff have stepped up under extraordinarily difficult conditions to try to ensure that kids are getting the education they deserve,” said Andrew Spar, president of FEA.

“What we need now is for the Governor and the Legislature to do their best for all the people in our public schools. Support our students’ success as we move through and past the pandemic. Let’s focus on student learning, and if we have to tie up kids’ learning time with standardized testing, at least eliminate the high stakes. Help us overcome Florida’s educator shortage by providing for a fair pay plan that does not penalize classroom experience, and by maintaining a stable retirement system.”

The poll found teachers felt especially slighted by policies like one-year contracts, low pay, reduced benefits and an over-reliance on standardized tests to measure performance.

Just 6% of teachers said they felt highly touted teacher pay raises could be felt “a lot” in their own households.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ focus on raising starting teacher pay was viewed as unfair by 88% of teachers. A can’t-get-much-higher 99% of educators list increasing salaries as an important issue heading into session, a 98% say the same about better retirement benefits.

Overlooked so far in vaccination priorities, about 78% of teachers feel “generally dissatisfied” with the conditions facing them now, and 49% feel “very dissatisfied.” That’s a 17-percentage-point increase in frustration compared to a similar poll taken last year.

Teachers feel split on the quality of education being provided in Florida during the pandemic, with 46% who feel good about it and 51% who don’t.

About 95% of teachers want better working conditions right now, and 86% feel classroom teachers should receive priority in vaccinations for COVID-19. About 74% of teachers feel schools have done a poor job of keeping students and teachers safe.

When in comes to distance learning, 65% of teachers do feel schools have done well in providing learning resources. But two thirds of educators see distance learning students struggling, and 86% see students struggling across the board.

When it comes to testing this year, 83% of teachers feel standardized tests should be canceled this spring. Regarding impacts on their own profession, 94% of educators say it’s important test scores not be connected to teacher evaluations. About 93% of teachers feel reducing the number of government-issued tests is important.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Public School Teacher

    February 26, 2021 at 10:33 pm

    As I keep saying, none of this matters if teachers don’t show up in large numbers in November 2022 to vote him out! Teachers have gotten the rotten end of the stick from Republicans for over 2 decades, and there’s little motivation for the Republicans to do right by teachers because they know they can take advantage of us and still get re-elected.

  • Dan

    February 27, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    The only purpose of the teachers Union is to protect failing schools, failing school systems and bad teachers. They force a Taj Mahal for the Union Admin & very little for actual in room instructors. Stop indoctrinating students to be Socialist Victims. Education is successful in Charter Schools away from Ineffective Student Last Teachers Unions.

  • Carolyn Rehmet

    February 28, 2021 at 7:48 am

    It is amazing the author can say teachers are extremely disappoint with our governor when only 506 were polled. That is a fraction of the number of teachers in our state. As a teacher myself, I am extremely pleased he opened schools. I did get COVID from one of my students and still think Florida has done it right.

Comments are closed.


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