Outtakes—A Step in the Right Direction
In unveiling his budget proposal for next year’s legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $603 million teacher-compensation plan that increases the pay for more than 101,000 teachers in Florida by raising the minimum salary to $47,500—nearly $10,000 above what the Escambia County School District has been offering its starting teachers.
According to the National Education Association, Florida ranks 26th in the nation for starting teacher pay, at $37,636. If lawmakers approved DeSantis’ plan, the state would jump to second in the country for starting teacher pay.
“With a strong economy and plenty of jobs available in other fields, unfortunately, too many college graduates are unwilling to enter the teaching profession,” said DeSantis last week. “My proposal to increase the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500 will help alleviate this shortage and elevate the teaching profession to the level of appreciation it deserves. This is long overdue, and I look forward to working with the legislature to make this a reality.”
Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran had hinted that significant changes in public education were on the horizon when he spoke to the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club in August.
“There’s only one way that we move forward and save our republic for the next 100 years and next generations. We’ve got to get education right,” he told the audience.
Corcoran stressed the need to celebrate and elevate the teaching profession, saying, “Nothing is more important to the outcome of a child.”
The governor echoed those sentiments last week, “If you look at ways you can make an impact in students’ achievement … having a great teacher in front of the students is really the best thing you can do.”
He believes the most effective way of ensuring the state has great teachers is by having a higher minimum salary.
Critics questioned why the governor didn’t raise the overall average salaries of educators and only focused on the minimum pay. Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, thanked DeSantis for “opening a dialogue on salaries” but said the teachers’ union saw raising the minimum as a beginning to the discussion.
“We still hope to hear about what Gov. DeSantis plans to do to retain experienced teachers who have devoted years to their students and about how his administration will provide fair, competitive pay for all the people essential to our schools—bus drivers, paraprofessionals, food-service workers, office staff, custodial personnel and others,” said Ingram.
While we agree that compensation for all teachers and school personnel is woefully low, DeSantis’s proposal is an critical step in the right direction. Education is what gives our children hope of a better future, and good teachers are critical in providing that education.
Bravo, Governor DeSantis.