State Department of Education calls teachers union count of vacancies ‘blatant lie’

Helpful male teacher using laptop at class, working on a project with his teenage students. Experienced mature mentor working with teenagers at school
The FEA says vacancies in the state's public schools are at an all-time high; FDOE officials say vacancies are lower than last year.

The Florida Department of Education is pushing back against a finding that teacher and staff vacancies are at an all-time high as the new school year begins.

State Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. posted on X, calling a report from the state’s largest teachers union on teacher vacancies a “blatant lie.” That comes after the Florida Education Association (FEA) reported that nearly 7,000 teachers and 5,000 support staff are missing from the state’s public schools.

Diaz said the methodology the union used — counting advertised vacancies on county school websites — is “inaccurate” and that the number of vacancies is lower than this time last year.

“As of today, Florida has 4,776 vacancies which is 1.3 (teacher vacancies) on average per school,” he posted on X, quote-posting the FEA’s original post on Thursday. “In fact, our vacancies are nearly 10% lower than this time last year.”

Officials at the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) had not responded to inquiries last week about school vacancy numbers until Tuesday, despite press inquiries. On Tuesday, though, FDOE officials put out a release saying there were 2,000 fewer vacancies than the FEA reported, and 432 fewer vacant positions than last year. 

Efforts to extend temporary teaching certifications, create new pathways to become a teacher and boost salaries have paid off, the release says. The FDOE did not respond to a follow-up inquiry concerning support staff vacancies.

“It has been a top priority of the Governor, the Florida Legislature and the Department of Education to recruit high-quality teachers to fill our classrooms,” said Diaz in the release. “It is clear from the nearly 10% decline in teacher vacancies reported today that their hard work has paid off.”

But FEA officials are standing behind their count, according to a statement.

“Now is not the time to sugarcoat or downplay the teacher and staff shortage,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement, calling the situation “a crisis.”

“It’s bad, and kids are losing out.”

The state may have boosted salaries, but nationally, Florida public school teachers are still in the basement compared to what other states pay their public school teachers. Also, legislation has made the state’s public school classrooms a battleground for the culture wars, union officials said.

“Due to low pay and a divisive political climate of fear and intimidation, the teacher and staff shortage has gone from bad to worse under the (Ron) DeSantis administration,” Spar added.

The number of vacancies is just one of several education-related headlines that have proliferated with the beginning of the school year.

Diaz canceled his attendance at a town hall that he had initially agreed to in Miami Gardens last week. It had been called in response to outrage over new curriculum guidelines that pushed for instruction that includes “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Also, the College Board announced earlier this month that Advanced Placement Psychology classes could not be taught to the 30,000 Florida students that signed up for them because of the state rules that prohibited discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Diaz issued a statement the following week that the class could be offered and taught in an “age-appropriate way” but some school districts have nixed the course.

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].


  • PeterH

    August 15, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    Opinions without proof do not matter! Someone is lying and only an investigative reporter can get at the truth.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 17, 2023 at 5:08 am

    “No you lie. No you lie.” This is serious for our Children. This administration does not want to do their job. They just want to complain and bs! Hush.

  • Governer Desantos

    August 17, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Manny Diaz is a professional liar, which is why I appointed him to destroy our public schools and lie about everything possible.

Comments are closed.


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