Q&A of the Day –Florida public sector unions & teacher pay
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: There should be no blanket solutions with things like teacher pay. Union should be dissolved. Teachers managed locally. Pay based on your teaching skills and results. Bad results? Low pay or fired. All the talk about raising teacher pay as a whole is ridiculous. AND people with no kids like me, or seniors, should not be paying any school taxes AT ALL. If you even believe in property taxes to start, which I don't. And what about my rental properties? I pay crazy taxes on those. No kids.
Bottom Line: The debate about Florida teacher pay isn’t new, has been a regular topic of conversation – especially since Governor DeSantis proposed a new starting teacher pay plan last fall but it’s about to reach a fever pitch with the state session set to being next week. Governor DeSantis proposed raising starting teaching pay from an average of $37,636 to $47,500. A huge 26% raise for teachers that would come with a year one cost to Floridians of $603 million. That’s without discussing any additional increases for existing teachers who earn more than $47,500. It’s worth noting the average public-school teacher in Florida currently earns $54,745 per year. Remarkably the Florida Education Association said it was only a “starting point” for negotiations.
Ten years ago, the average Florida teacher pay was $46,921. Salaries have risen $7,824, or 17% since then. Over that same time the average Floridian has experienced a 13% increase in income. In other words, teacher salaries have risen 4% faster than the average Florida taxpayer who accounts for their salaries. And it’s safe to say Floridians aren’t set to earn anywhere near an additional 26% more this year. It’s in this context that I find the response by the Florida Education Association offensive. The money they’re demanding for teacher pay raises doesn’t come from a magic money tree. It comes for the very people they’re supposed to serve. I’ve always found government employee raises that rise faster than the citizens they’re supposed to be working for to be wrong. It also undermines the concept of public service, including by teachers. The average teacher already earns far more than the average full-time employed Floridan, they’ve seen raises at a faster rate than the average Floridian, and are set to see another significant raise – yet still it’s not good enough.
Because teachers and the education establishment are generally coddled by news media, serious dissemination of information and analysis of teacher pay, as I’m doing in this story, rarely if ever takes place (I’ve not seen it, but say rarely in case someone actually has attempted objective journalism on this topic). And this takes me back to your desire to have the FEA dissolved. I understand and I agree. There are 137,761 members of the FEA. They collectively bargain not against a private entity, but against the taxpayers they represent. We don’t have any choice but to pay taxes or lose our property, freedom or both. When public resources, our taxes and subsequent increases, force Floridians to pay more – whether we have kids or can afford it...we must pay or leave. Any analysis of teacher pay that isn’t weighed against the citizens they serve, isn’t credible or objective. The FEA has made clear, often in conjunction with news media, that ignorance (ironically enough) is bliss. Playing the role of victims is easier and has proven far more effective for them. Often people, especially teachers, are critical of the way I inform on these issues. Let me be clear that nothing I’ve shared or continue to share is anti-education or teachers. It’s simply objective information that’s lacking in the public discourse of these debates. There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. I never apologize for facts that make some uncomfortable. That’s generally when they’re needed most.