Florida teachers union blasts Gov. DeSantis ‘fuzzy math,’ says $200M in budget for teacher pay isn’t enough
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teacher pay
'This $200 million equates to a salary increase in every classroom teacher’s paycheck of about $125 a month, and nowhere near the $15,000 annual increase needed to match the national average.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the state’s next budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year, including $200 million for teacher pay raises. DeSantis has touted the increase, which the Legislature passed at his behest, as a “record” investment.

But the state’s largest teachers union isn’t impressed. Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar said in a statement after the bill signing that DeSantis’ assertion “is at best, fuzzy math and at worst, a political stunt meant to intentionally mislead teachers in the state and once again shift blame.”

The increase will bring Florida’s total allocation for teacher salaries to $1.25 billion. After increasing starting teacher pay in 2020 to $47,500, Florida now ranks at No. 16 in the nation. But the National Education Association also ranks Florida at No. 50 — second-to-last in the nation because the ranking includes Washington, D.C. — in overall average teacher pay, which is about $53,000.

“Florida is the fourth largest economy in the nation — and with this budget the Governor has claimed he has so much money, he doesn’t know what to do with it,” Spar said.

“This is curious given that Florida’s teachers rank #50 in the nation in average teacher pay, a ranking that is contributing to a concerning teacher and staff shortage in our state. The solution seems to be to close down public schools in favor of voucher schools, which actively take money from our students in neighborhood public schools.”

A memo from the group puts the $200 million increase into perspective, noting that while it “sounds historic,” the increase doesn’t “move the needle far enough or fast enough for educators working toward a better life.”

“Parents, communities and voters overwhelmingly support public education,” Spar said. “This $200 million equates to a salary increase in every classroom teacher’s paycheck of about $125 a month, and nowhere near the $15,000 annual increase needed to match the national average for teacher salaries. The only thing the budget guarantees is that Florida’s teachers will remain near the bottom in average pay.”

The association is calling for $2.5 billion a year for the next seven years — about $1,000 more per student — “to make Florida’s teachers rank top 10 in the nation in pay and to fund programs that Florida’s students need to succeed.”

The FEA also laid out a series of budget items it says miss the mark on public education, including a 3.72% increase to the Base Student Allocation.

“Trends show when adjusted for inflation this funding is actually less than pre-Great Recession funding, when Florida was ranked 28th in the nation in average teacher salary,” the FEA memo noted.

Additionally, the group lamented that a 3% cost-of-living adjustment for past or future retirees will not be restored under the signed budget. The budget also maintains the $300 stipend for teachers to purchase classroom supplies, “effectively ensuring that teachers will need to continue to pay for supplies out of pocket.”

The FEA also said $180 million in funding for mental health and $290 million for school safety don’t go far enough either.

“Teachers and staff in Florida have recommendations on how the Governor can spend his extra cash: provide funds to pay teachers and education staff professionals fairly, fully fund public education, provide mental health resources for students and teachers who are struggling, and ensure teacher vacancies are filled so every child can have an educator trained in their subject,” Spar said.

Spar and the FEA have been speaking out about funding for public education since Monday, when the Florida Department of Education issued a press release from the Governor’s Office touting “historic teacher salary funding.” DeSantis is quoted in the press release touting teacher pay as “attractive compensation.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Silly Wabbit

    June 12, 2024 at 3:58 pm

    DeSantis lies.

    • Silly Wabbit

      June 12, 2024 at 4:01 pm

      Fwustwated despot.

      • Silly Wabbit

        June 12, 2024 at 4:02 pm

        Tightwad, too.

        • Paul Passarelli

          June 12, 2024 at 4:13 pm

          Another fake profile loser.

      • Paul Passarelli

        June 12, 2024 at 4:13 pm

        Another fake profile loser.

    • Paul Passarelli

      June 12, 2024 at 4:13 pm

      Another fake profile loser.

  • Paul Passarelli

    June 12, 2024 at 4:11 pm

    The Teacher’s Unions are *NEVER* satisfied with any raises they’re given. Nor with anything they negotiate. Not even with what they are able to extort.

    Face it, teachers never have and *STILL* don’t work a full year! They only put in 180 out of 240 working days each year. That means they only working 75% of the time. So why should they expect more than 75% of the median commensurate wages?

    If the money doesn’t appeal, then don’t pursue the career. If you did choose to pursue the career, then don’t complain about the pay.

    I came from Connecticut, where the NFT (Norwalk Federation of Teachers) had a stranglehold on City Hall, and was able to literally extort their demands from weak-willed city government officials. All at the expense of the taxpayers.

    During my half century in the frozen north, I watched the quality of education diminish from passable to deplorable. All while the Teacher’s salaries grew at rates that most people can only fantasize about. Yes we came to Florida by choice. I don’t have the long experience with Sunshine State teachers, but no one can tell me that the teachers’ unions here don’t share the same goals as the TUs up north have. And I’ve got half a century of proof that it was a badly failed experiment.

    So to the teachers, I say: if you want a raise, then demonstrate *OUTSTANDING* results which can be seen if your students demonstrate ***true*** excellence. That doesn’t mean teaching to the test, it means educating them.

    To the Boards of Education & Superintendents: Demand excellence from your teachers. Promote those that earn it, and ***FIRE*** the lowest performing quintile! Yes, 20% attrition is a REASONABLE cut rate until the the deadwood is eliminated. After ~ 5 years the, most of the failed teachers will be gone. And the curve will shift substantially to the right. Then the cut rate can be adjusted so as to eliminate the burnouts and the handful that are simply not up to the challenge. But the rate will never go to zero.

    To the Commissioners: Base school funding on excellence! Refuse to accept mediocrity. Do not reward untested superintendents or other professionals with contracts they have not earned, unless there is a strong clause for clawback if they fail to deliver.

    To the Parents: Get it into your children’s heads that their EDUCATION is a privilege, it is not your entitlement for daycare. Demand excellence from your kids. Be prepared to work with them *DAILY* to review what they did in school. The *TAXPAYERS* are footing the bills for your kids schooling! You *OWE* us your dedication to maintaining your child’s discipline and motivation. If you truly require help, ask and it will be provided. But do not complain.

    Kids: I don’t know how to reach you, but you little snot nosed brats need to understand that your parents were once your age. They knew what you know, they thought what you think. they tried to pull wheat you try. Nothing you do is *ORIGINAL*. Mind your manners, be respectful to the adults, and you will be rewarded. Mouth off and you will be removed. Act out and you will be punished.

    Now all that’s necessary is the the people that are seeing RED because of my candor ro take a chill pill, and for the people with the power to act, to get off their political asses and ACT.

    Finally, to all the people that are going to have a hissy-fit when the above happen, all I have to say to you is shut your {expletive deleted} mouths. You’re the source of the problems. If you don’t like it, don’t let the door hit you in the arse while you move someplace else.

    • JD

      June 12, 2024 at 4:50 pm

      I’ve yet to see a set of metrics that accurately measures “excellence” of public teachers, but it’s a very liberatarian notion.

      However, trying to apply merit based pay when your students are “required” to be there is far far different than being a private school teacher or corporate trainer. Those kids / people want to be there or the instructor is paid enough to deal with them.

    • ScienceBLVR

      June 12, 2024 at 6:35 pm

      Speaking about fuzzy math, teachers in my district work a 196 day contract, not 180, and some with extended duty, who serve special populations, work 235 days. And a high percentage work an additional 4-6 weeks in summer. Doesn’t matter how many days a year you work when your average salary is dead last in the nation. Alternative facts much?

  • Michael K

    June 12, 2024 at 4:26 pm

    You should try teaching in a public school classroom. From the sound of your rant, you’d last about 5 minutes.
    Florida has created a toxic environment for teachers, which is why thousands of positions go unfilled. Right wing legislators vilify teachers as “groomers,” insult and belittle them, and sip-on funds into unaccountable “Christian” schools.

    I’m with the unions in standing up for our hardworking, professional teachers against ill-informed and I’ll-intentioned politicians in this state determined to destroy public education.

    • ScienceBLVR

      June 12, 2024 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks, Michael, you are right on target, and Paul needs to spend a few eye opening hours in a classroom so as not to appear to be talking out his, well, you know… I’m trying to think of another profession that has to endure all the slings and arrows you mentioned from DeSantis and his “make teachers the enemy “ speeches, but can’t think of any. Scientists, maybe, but they’re not calling them groomers, just liars. What kind of society treats teachers this way? In most countries, they are revered and respected, at the top of the food chain.

      • Billy Nash

        June 12, 2024 at 4:50 pm

        I agree with you. I may have had a few “bad” teachers who just couldn’t get the point across but most of the teachers I remember tried hard to help us learn and guide us. DeSantis obsession with sexuality and grooming is crazy!

    • Billy Nash

      June 12, 2024 at 4:54 pm

      Me too. Teachers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It has become even harder now than it was when I was in school. We are going to have a state full of half-wits! Not to mention the best and brightest of our young people will leave FL for better opportunities. The service industry does not pay well and now with DeSantis’ war on science and medicine who in their right mind will want to practice medicine in FL? Good luck finding someone to care for you as you age and need help! This state is in a downward spiral because of DeSantis’ and his bad policies.

  • Billy Nash

    June 12, 2024 at 4:48 pm

    I support public education not the voucher system. DeSantis’ war on public education is one of just many ways he is destroying this state. Florida used to be a pretty decent place to live before Rick Scott and now DeSantis. Time to get rid of the GQP legislature. All of DeSantis’ pet peeve laws are being contested in court and costing us taxpayers way too much money. He should be figuring out what to do about the insurance issue – oh, that’s right we can’t mention climate change and how that impacts our state. I still can’t believe he graduated from Yale and Harvard. He sounds dumb when he speaks and he is just plain nasty and righteous.

    • JD

      June 12, 2024 at 4:54 pm

      Desantis has pious arrogance.

      • Billy Nash

        June 12, 2024 at 4:55 pm

        Absolutely. He is a cruel and small man in every way.

Comments are closed.


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