Editorial: Troubled schools need more incentives for Florida teachers

Florida’s primary and secondary education ranks among the lowest in the country. It’s no wonder that legislators have been hard at work trying to come up with a solution to this problem.

Florida teachers, when compared to New York — which only has about a 1-million population size difference — aren’t paid enough. Florida teachers make an average of $12,000 less per year than New York teachers, according to the National Education Association. It’s hard to keep teachers in the state when they know they can make more money elsewhere for the same job.

In addition, many teachers end up in classrooms in tough neighborhoods with no benefits. They teach the same material with fewer resources than teachers in more affluent schools. Consequently, the best teachers are found predominantly in better schools.

As the system stands, teachers in good schools that continually meet the state’s grade standards get paid the same amount as those in tougher schools. In Hillsborough County, however, teachers that remain in poorer schools get paid 5 percent to 10 percent more, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Sen. Don Gaetz thinks it’s about time the state system is changed to look more like Hillsborough’s and has encouraged the Legislature to look into incorporating differential pay for teachers in tougher schools.

This is an admirable cause. Teachers who choose to teach in good schools shouldn’t be criticized, of course, but those who choose to work at poorer schools are faced with far greater hurdles yet are recognized the least.

It’s about time someone thought of a way to compensate those who wake up every morning and walk into a school that has books that are older than the children. Those are the ones who should be rewarded.

Almost everyone studying to become an educator says they are doing it because it’s their passion. They know money is rarely the motivation for an educator — the satisfaction of changing a child’s life will do.

Though they anre’t in it for the money, it’d be nice if we found a way to pay such teachers for their hard work. Though most say they do it for the kids, at the end of the day, many would rather teach at a school with children who are willing to learn and have ready access to materials.