Liberal group argues Gov. DeSantis’ policies lead to unqualified teachers
Moms for Liberty are crying foul against Facebook.

moms for liberty
DeSantis' political ambitions are making the state's teacher shortage worse, group says.

As Moms for Liberty opened its inaugural summit with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ breakfast address, progressives highlighted how his ambitions could be why their kids may not have a qualified teacher leading class next month.

The newly formed DeSantis Watch, dedicated to spotlighting the ways the Governor is using Florida to energize his base for a presidential run, fired its opening salvo at how DeSantis is driving the state’s teacher shortage, in more ways than one.

Under his watch, teacher salaries are in the basement, housing has become unaffordable and legislation with his stamp of approval is inflaming culture war tensions, according to a Friday DeSantis Watch news release.

The group, a joint effort of two progressive-leaning organizations, Florida Watch and Progress Florida, took aim particularly at legislation that more closely regulates the teaching of history, (HB 7), and discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation (HB 1557). Leading a classroom in what DeSantis calls the freest state in the country is anything but empowering, a DeSantis Watch official argued.

“Educators in Florida don’t have the freedom to teach honest history, don’t have the freedom to offer support to their students, and at the end of the school day, don’t have the freedom to afford a roof over their heads without a second job,” said Natasha Sutherland, DeSantis Watch constituencies director.

“While the Governor puts his political career first by waging culture war battles, it is Florida’s children and parents who rely on our public education system to help them succeed that continue to suffer.”

DeSantis has pushed for teachers’ raises during his time as Governor. But the Florida Education Association (FEA) estimates 450,000 Florida students started the school year last August without full-time, certified teachers in their classrooms and the numbers have kept getting worse.

The state FEA estimates there are 9,500 vacant teaching positions. A report from the state Department of Education earlier this year found that there are currently 4,489 teacher vacancies and even that was an increase of 800 from the year before.

Schools’ staffing shortages are plaguing schools throughout the country, however. And Florida’s teachers’ low salaries, the culprit identified in the FEA’s February report, is hardly a draw.

The National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, ranked all the states by teachers’ starting salary and average salary in May. For starting salary, Florida was 16th in the country, with an average of $44,040. But the state is 48th for its average teacher salary, which is $51,009.

The FEA also identified “lack of support” and “lack of flexibility in instruction” as culprits No. 2 and 3 in the teacher shortage.

Andrew Spar, president of the FEA, said he wouldn’t blame what DeSantis Watch is calling the culture war legislation for the shortage, entirely.

“I don’t think it’s helping by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

He sees the vilification of teachers as part of the problem driving teacher shortages. And also bad policy passed year after year that involves how teachers are paid, evaluated and the amount of freedom they have to teach as they see fit.

Friday’s DeSantis Watch news release also pointed out that Moms for Liberty have become an organization dedicated to promoting a far-right agenda. The Florida-based nonprofit has led the fight to ban books, stop the honest teaching of history and attack the rights of LBGTQ families, the release says.

No one from the administration immediately returned a Florida Politics inquiry on DeSantis Watch’s release, “Ron’s Focus on Culture Wars Driving the Teacher Shortage.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


24 comments

  • Richard Bruce

    July 15, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve been a long-term substitute high school and adult instructor for 5 years. FEA/NEA considers me “unqualified” since I do not have a teaching certificate. I’ve been denied full-time status because the teaching certification system does not recognize my engineering degree and experience. FEA/NEA doesn’t want good teachers, they want union members. There is no educational reason for someone to satisfy arbitrary hiring standards created by the union. The FEA/NEA union needs to be broken to allow objective hiring of good instructors by each school. Each school needs to be independent of over-reaching school boards. Enrollment of each school should be competitive with funds coming directly from families and not the Gov’t. Good schools will prosper and bad schools will close, quickly.

  • Tom

    July 15, 2022 at 2:59 pm

    Oh, I guess your qualified if it’s a liberal socialist Governor. What a crock!
    How ungrateful, what a bunch of ingrates.
    Two raises, two bonuses. DeSantis is America’s Gov. I repeat two raises. Unbelievable.

    Florida now has due to Govs excellent budget, financial management $21 billion. Educators will be hired. Rome was not built in a day.
    Instead of suing over Covid and losing, maybe the FEA should work together.

    • jesse salisbury

      July 29, 2022 at 12:55 am

      are you getting paid per post ? you keep repeating the same garbage. desantis gave teachers 2 raises. yet they have the second lowest pay in the country.. there are reasons why florida is more than 9,500 teachers short . desantis is given teachers more reasons to quit

  • marylou

    July 15, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    FLORIDA considers you “unqualified” The FDOE site has instructions for applying for a Temporary Certification. If they reject you, they will tell you what you need to do in order to qualify.

    Certification standards are not “arbitrary”. Professional teacher education includes the foundations, theories, methods, and content knowledge required to meet the entire range of each student’s needs, both individually and as a group.

    Teaching is more than just showing up and reading someone else’s lesson plan. All children are entitled to a professionally educated teacher and a safe and effective school that is publicly funded. The FEA/NEA is there to make sure they get that.

    Some private schools have lower standards and do not require teacher certification. For someone who opposes providing government funded public schools, this would be the correct option.

    • Mtthew Lusk

      July 27, 2022 at 11:04 am

      TEACHER, leave those kids alone!

  • Tom

    July 15, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    Union, Union and Union.
    Scurrilous, extortion.
    Expand school voucher programs.
    Florida has a one if the very best, expand it.
    They have received 2 raises, 2 bonuses,
    From Governor.
    Educators have a great friend in America’s Gov.
    all Floridians must remember, the F E Assoc sued Gov Ron, he won they lost.
    He saved kids suicides, parents know he is for families. Majority of Educators will support DeSantis.

    America’s Gov the best!

  • Wouldn't Be Bragging

    July 16, 2022 at 8:53 am

    It will simply be a matter of time before DeSantis’ partisan assault on education is
    rejected and overwritten. At that point it will be recognized as a pointless and destructive waste of time put forth by an ego who is not
    fit to manage any state.
    Also I cannot get past how his former fellow students considered him a “dick” of unflattering proportions. He enjoyed cutting people down and making fun of minorities and others who he enjoyed laughing at and making cutting remarks about. He’s a shameful human in my book. I would have punked him thoroughly in grade school. Seeing as how that apparently never happened, he will now face the education he failed to receive in childhood. His ultimate story – yet to be written – will serve as a cautionary tale to all his supporters, who will likely remain oblivious to the realities.

    • Tom

      July 16, 2022 at 3:59 pm

      Moron, you are an idiot to be clear

      He saved Florida, kept jobs open, prevented kids suicides, saved parents jobs, best economy.

      You are a loser, liar and are jealous.
      DeSantis is the whiz kid Gov who whizzes upon losers such as you.

      • Paul

        July 18, 2022 at 11:59 am

        Rather than give a rational response, you appear to be one who can only attack and vilify while defending one of the most destructive leaders in our history.

        • Tom

          July 19, 2022 at 11:06 pm

          Go to hell Paul moron.
          Destructive would be like the blue state incompetent states if it were not for America’s Governor.

          You obviously can’t read. I provided several reasons why he is a great Governor.

  • YYep

    July 16, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    Liberal is not Liberty for All however my sleeping in the woods and being arrested is a violation of my liberty

  • YYep

    July 16, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    Teacher salaries were great until flip my home cane alongside for the ride no everything is money oppressive

  • Just a comment

    July 17, 2022 at 10:43 am

    What is to need your hone and everything catered around It

  • JimmyJam

    July 17, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    Unions don’t have any power down here. Unions want higher pay and return of tenure. Did they get either? This would help the shortage. This is what other states offer and with the exponential raise in house prices nobody will come here to teach. Cost of living now compares with northern states where salaries are $20,000 higher.

  • Tjb

    July 18, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    Did the raises and bonus’s originated from the funding from the Federal government? Did this funding come from bills that DeSantis and many Republicans legislator opposed?

  • marylou

    July 19, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    Ron raised starting teacher pay to #16 nationally–to lure teachers to the state, but refuses to pay enough to keep them.
    Average teacher pay in Florida is #48
    Per student spending is #44
    Teachers don’t want to participate in Ron’s government indoctrination of students with Christian nationalist non-facts, including teaching students that the founders didn’t really want Separation of Church and State!

    • Errol Korn

      July 28, 2022 at 12:40 pm

      From Google search “The Founders were divided but the majority favored separation of church and state. It was precisely for religious freedom, not against it, that Jefferson wanted to keep the church out of the state’s business and vice versa.”

  • Yeah

    July 19, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    Moving without the math.no surprise. I couldn’t understand those math symbols anyway

  • Bend

    July 25, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    Teachers need to be able to install a curriculum one that the age groups understands and is excepted by principles.
    You can have all the life skills in the world but does not qualify as a teacher

  • PeterH

    July 25, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Forget about the particular status of qualifications.

    According to a July 6, 2022 Orlando Fox News article the Florida school system is short 9,000 teachers and 50% of third graders can’t read.

    Today’s Republicans whine about school unions but have no problem with Police unions that protect corrupt and abusive police. Make up your mind.

    • Matthew Lusk

      July 27, 2022 at 11:13 am

      I’m a republican and have no problem with unions per say, however, going on strike on work time is grounds for immediate termination.

      • Errol Korn

        July 28, 2022 at 12:43 pm

        I have never been a Union Member BUT, I do support them. Often strikes happen when the employers will not negotiate in good faith which, leaves employees no choice.

  • Matthew Lusk

    July 27, 2022 at 11:09 am

    Parental Choice, 100% private schools or home schools with 100% parent vouchers. Get rid of loser teachers and liberal programming.

  • Tom

    July 28, 2022 at 10:33 am

    This governor excelled at showing off morons and brain dead pawns.

    He will continue to do so because of the continued party politics and lack of critical thinking from a considerable portion of the population.

Comments are closed.


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