Teacher in the classroom
Teacher in the classroom Creative commons

The National Education Group (NEA) published a report showing that Florida ranks 50th in the country for teacher pay, undermining recent claims by state governor Ron DeSantis about the Sunshine state being "the number one state in the country for education." The state was ranked 48th in last year's study.

Following the report, Florida's Department of Education responded by calling it "bogus" and claiming that it failed to make a comprehensive assessment:

"The bogus NEA report does not consider a variety of factors, such as cost of living and state income tax. We also have no way to verify that the union is accurately collecting and reporting teacher salaries and not artificially inflating the data with benefits and other forms of compensation."

The state ministry went on to say that it has invested $4 billion dollars to pay raises for teachers since the Governor took office.

In an interview with Axios, Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said that most of the allocations have gone to increasing starting teacher salaries, creating a massive disparity for veteran teachers.

"They are right when they say they've increased starting teacher pay" Spar says. "But we're second to last in average teacher pay and [that's because of] salary compression."

The NEA's 2024 review quantified teacher salary, education support professional pay and student spending in every state from pre-K through college. Among its key insights was that even though some states showed record-level increases, "average teacher pay has failed to keep up with inflation over the past decade." In fact, adjusted for inflation teachers are, on average, making 5% less than they did 10 years ago.

Another point of conflict between the study and representatives from the DeSantis administration had to do with the impact of unions in teacher salaries. While the NEA found that educators earn more in states with collective bargaining, the Florida Department of Education expressed that "one thing we know to be 100% true: when the union gets involved in salary negotiations, teachers lose out."

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.