While many college students choose to major in education, the continuously disappointing statistics regarding teacher pay can be a turnoff to pursuing a career in the education field entirely. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average salary for
Florida public school teachers lags behind the national average by about $8,900.
In order to attract and maintain quality teachers in Florida schools, legislators need to raise the public school teacher salary to at least the national average.
It is no secret that many college students struggle with finding their major and career path. Many students base their choices off of an average income they would earn in a specific career to lead an ideal lifestyle. The Florida Chamber of Commerce launched a website called Launch My Career Florida that helps people who are struggling to find a path, like the typical college student, estimate the kind of lifestyle that comes along with different careers. According to the website, a college educated, experienced Florida teacher with a child would not earn enough to afford an apartment and a car. There is no reason that a trained professional, often with certificates and master’s degrees, should be struggling to make ends meet. Florida legislators are doing a major disservice to public school teachers by significantly underpaying them.
In 2017, Gov. Rick Scott proposed that grants are boosted from $250 to $350 for Florida teachers to buy classroom supplies. While it is a slight improvement, it is a miniscule amount in comparison to what needs to change. The Education Market Association reports that teachers spend an average of about $500 dollars annually on classroom supplies, and it goes without saying that much of this comes directly out of pocket. While local efforts in individual school districts are helpful, ultimately it is up to Tallahassee to make the proper increases that are necessary to sustain a well-run classroom.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that within five years of starting in the Florida public school system, 40 percent of teachers are choosing to leave. This represents a large-scale problem within Florida, one that legislators are well aware of. While legislators are working to fix the issue, the proposed changes are minor. Upgrading Florida’s testing regulations and teacher-bonus programs is the bare minimum that legislators can do. Addressing serious issues with these meager solutions is counterintuitive.
Legislators must raise the Florida public school teacher salary to at least the national average. The budget issue that plagues Florida public schools trickles down to the student experience as well, with underfunded and underappreciated teachers running the increasingly overpopulated classroom. While local efforts are appreciated, the power that is held by the state is not being used properly. Instead of increasing classroom supply budgets by an embarrassing amount of $100, reallocate those funds to secure teacher salaries. While Tallahassee scrambles to find solutions to a lack of interested Florida school teachers and increasing tensions coming out of the public schools, it seems they are dancing around the subject of increasing salaries. The minimal attempts to improve teacher salaries is essentially like placing a Band-Aid over the wound that Florida public school teachers bare. The state of public school systems as a whole depends on the decisions that are coming out of Tallahassee, whether legislators decide to improve or ignore their teacher’s demands.
Samantha Moffett is a junior majoring in mass communications