Teachers union: School starting with record numbers of teacher, staff vacancies
Image via AP.

Orange County Schools school buses
The FEA counted nearly 12,000 adults missing from classrooms, buses and lunchrooms as students return to the state's public schools.

As schools start opening across Florida, the state’s largest teachers union expects it’s going to be one for the history books: A record-high number of educators are missing from the classroom.

The Florida Education Association (FEA), representing about 150,000 educators, said they counted 6,920 teacher vacancies advertised on county school district websites. That’s a 15% increase from last year, when there were a record 6,006 teacher vacancies, according to an August 2022 count.

For support staff, there are 5,072 vacancies, up 6% from last August. Those positions include aides and bus drivers.

FEA first began counting advertised vacancies for teachers in August 2016, when there were 2,400 open teaching positions listed on websites, union officials said.

Teacher shortages are widespread across the country, with particular problems filling positions in special education, math and science. National data shows that Florida teacher shortages are more acute than most places, but not as bad as Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia, according to Campus Safety Magazine’s April 2023 analysis of the number of vacancies per student.

State Department of Education officials did not immediately respond Thursday to a query about how many vacancies it has counted. State policymakers have acknowledged some sort of problem, though. Legislation has increased the pathways to becoming certified to teach in Florida and streamlined the process for accepting teaching certificates from other states.

FEA President Andrew Spar said the state’s situation is made more fraught by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign, as classrooms have become a battleground of culture war issues. Restrictions on books and use of pronouns, as well as stricter regulations on classroom topics, have made teaching more unattractive, he said.

“Every single one of these situations stems directly from the fact that Gov. DeSantis is more focused on running for President than on being Governor,” said Spar, citing recent controversies regarding Advanced Placement courses, scrutiny of classroom picture books and new history standards. ”Far too many children in Florida won’t have the first day of school they deserve.”

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].


  • TJC

    August 10, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    Sounds like the Governor’s and his cronies’ plan is working. Throw public schools into chaos, sit back and blame them for the chaos.

  • My Take

    August 10, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    Other than for nicknames and pronouns, have the right-wing whackos put any squeese on science teachers yet ? I assime they have little gripe with math and enginerring.
    Evolution still OK? Ancient earth?

  • Dont Say FLA

    August 10, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    Between getting shot at by students and kicked down at by the Rhonda State Government, why in tarnation would anyone with ANY choice be a teacher in Florida?

    The only teachers left teaching in Florida are effectively economically imprisoned, chained to their classroom job because the alternative is delivering pizzas, bartending, Lyfting, stripping, even going so low as Ubering, you know, that sort thing.

    You also might get shot and kicked down at by the government. It’s just the local government, which is an improvement I guess, but there’s no benefits for pizza delivery people, bartenders, Lyfters, strippers, Ubers, etc etc etc. Thus, some folks still have to “teach” but when you have chips on both shoulders at your employer, and you’re a teacher with the state mandated bad attitude, would you really call it “teaching”

  • My Take

    August 10, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    Squeeze, assume, engineering
    Need new glasses
    I’ll bet the thumpers could be easily worked up though by orìgin of life and cosmology and even anatomy.

  • PeterH

    August 10, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    Last year DeSantis was forced to hire college dropouts with at least two years of College to teach in Florida’s classrooms. Since this year we’re seeing an additional 15% teacher deficit….. you can bet that DeSantis will hire ‘high school graduates who are “thinking” of going to college.

    Where does this end? Florida certainly does not have sufficient private schools to accommodate tens of thousands of students!

    Additionally as reported in Politico yesterday the Florida Department of Education has authorized the teaching (indoctrination) of elementary school students in the absurd concepts of dangerous solar panels and wind mill energy production. This is DeSantis “grooming!”

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Ron DiSaster

    August 10, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    This is by design. Intelligent & educated people tend to lean left and vote blue.

    So he causes a teacher shortage, attacks education in the state, and then Florida will have more dum-dums he can indoctrinate and more people who are only capable of doing low skilled, minimum wage jobs.

    • Joe

      August 11, 2023 at 4:41 pm

      And they can shovel more public funds into the pockets of their private school cronies, which is the entire point of dismantling the public education system.

  • Jennifer Shearer

    August 10, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    The requirements to recertification every five years is too much.

  • My Take

    August 10, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Look for ex-militay being given some strong advantage in certification.

  • My Take

    August 10, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    I’ll bet teachers are far more respected in most other nations.

  • Vernon L Loyd

    August 10, 2023 at 6:31 pm

    I moved to Florida upon graduation from Auburn University in Alabama in 1965. I came because at that time Florida was considered by many to be a much more progressive state in the South as compared to Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, LA, Ak, and other former Confederate and segregated states. Now the MAGA ultra conservative GOP Trump cult has taken over the state with a Fascist Governor. Teachers and other educators do not want to have to work under fear that the State will arrest them for discussing current issues and teaching accurate and complete History. A History teacher can not honestly and ethnically claim to be a “History” teacher if they obey the Governor and the Legislature in Florida. THAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH FLORIDA EDUCATION TODAY.
    I was a teacher recruiter for Brevard County Florida once and we recruited some great teachers and at the time we built up a large number of qualified applicants . Today I could not honestly tell a possible applicant to come to Florida until we reclaim our State from the politicians and crazy groups like “Moms for Liberty” etc. and let our educators do what their profession demands without dictates of what they can and can not say in class and dictates of indoctrination and not real teaching. RISE UP FLORIDA AND STOP THIS NONSENSE!

  • Lex

    August 11, 2023 at 8:50 am

    All political sides need teachers, but we really do need to take politics out of teaching. The Left has coopted teachers’ unions to the point where those unions no longer even pretend to represent half the country. Why would Republicans respect teachers’ unions? Republicans should not, as they currently are being run. We used to think that sports, media, and business would be politically neutral. Nothing is anymore. Unless we get a realignment towards nonpartisan, we are going to see this type of issue. This does need to be fixed, but teachers need to recognize that they need to be politically neutral since half the students that come in front of them are parented by Republicans.

    • Joe

      August 11, 2023 at 4:40 pm

      Or those Republican parents need to stop expecting public servants to parrot their preferred Fox News talking points for them, maybe turn off the Murdoch TV/radio/internet for awhile and read a real book or newspaper or even touch some grass. Your both-sides-ism gives away your own partisan bias toward the dark side of American politics.

    • TopCat

      August 12, 2023 at 1:43 pm

      As a retired teacher, I can tell you unions are necessary. Teachers need that support in many ways. Most teachers ARE politically neutral. Teaching politics is part of learning about our government, but it should never be indoctrination.
      You seem to suggest teachers have some kind of choice what they teach here in Florida. And we’re “not being fair” to republicans. Come on!!!!! We just want to teach.

  • Joe

    August 11, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    For all the GQP who absolutely detest the notion of public education, this is a win. This is truly an un-American and actually evil party.

    • My Take

      August 12, 2023 at 1:45 am

      Putin and his like must be delighted–and astounded–at the GOP’s dismantling of America.

  • Michael K

    August 12, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    Teachers are under attack in Florida by greedy Republican donors and their handmaidens in the Republican legislature who are hellbent on destroying public education.

    Florida is the laughing stock of the nation – with teachers fearful of teaching Shakespeare – Shakespeare! – and AP classes in psychology are not available. New College is ruined, just for grins and cheap campaign talking points, with grifter political hacks (Rufo and Corcoran) running the show. Disgusting.

    Universities are also feeling pressure and intimidation. the whole situation is disgusting, and a warning to the nation of what will happen if the clown car of the DeSantis new confederacy is allowed to roll into town. I’m afraid Florida is doomed.

Comments are closed.


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