Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces a hefty budget increase to hand out teacher raises statewide.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking on some huge ambitions in The Sunshine State’s Education sector. The Governor recently signed the Stop Woke Act bill into law in a major move to combat critical race theory discussions inside classrooms. On top of that, the Governor recently announced next year’s funding proposals, which included hefty amounts aimed at STEM research and student resiliency. This week, DeSantis takes aim at Florida teacher pay, as he announced plans to enact a hefty teacher raise throughout the state.
Governor DeSantis spoke about the proposed teacher raise at the Renaissance Charter School in Wellington, Florida Monday morning. Among his discussions, the governor said he was approving $800 million from the state’s new budget to increase the average minimum salary of teachers to at least $47,500. DeSantis also said that the state has already spent two billion in increased teacher compensation over the last three years. This funding included bonuses for public and charter school teachers and principals last year.
In his statement, DeSantis iterated how crucial it was to recognize teachers for their efforts the last few years amid the COVID pandemic. He also noted that the teacher raise would affect the state’s most tenured teachers as well. “It’s just something that I think is really, really important,” said the Governor who has been known to clash with teacher unions in his state.
The Governor previously made the same promise a few years ago. In June 2020, DeSantis signed House Bill 641 into law. Just as he announced today, the legislation touted a teacher raise to bring state minimum starting salaries to at least $47,500 across the entire school system within Florida. However, NBC local news outlets recently reported that the new law had yet to be enacted in over 31 counties where teachers still receive less than the state’s minimum salary requirements.
Since this isn’t the first time the Governor has promised a teacher raise of this same amount, it will likely be another thorn between Florida’s government and the ongoing battle with teacher unions and districts. As the current school year started, the Florida Board of Education threatened to pull funding from school districts that made masks mandatory regardless of the Governor’s executive order banning such mandates. This was just the beginning of a long school year riddled with arguments and banter between school board administrators and teacher unions.
Similar to the proposed teacher raise, the recent passing in Congress of the Parental Rights in Education, or the Don’t Say Gay bill, has also caused many union heads and teachers across the state to communicate great distaste for the state’s policies. And in another bold move, DeSantis recently banned the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) from being used in schools. This move was similarly met with oppositions from unions, who say it will in fact lead to more testing requirements throughout the school year.
Across the nation, teacher unions have called for a need to increase salaries to retain teachers in the education sector. Reports show that Florida ranked at close to the worse paying state for teachers’ salaries. According to the data, the national average teacher pay sits at about $64,500. The highest-paid state was New York, which holds an average pay at nearly $86 thousand, with Mississippi ranking the lowest at $45 thousand. Just above Mississippi came Florida, where teacher pay averaged out at $48 thousand. While the teacher raise is needed desperately in Florida’s schools, it likely isn’t going to be enough to get union officials off the governor’s backs as the battle for education in Florida rages on.