Big raise proposed for new Florida teachers
Teachers in Florida could be in line for a pay rise as part of the state’s effort to combat teacher shortages.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday proposed spending $600 million to raise the the minimum new teacher salary to $47,500 from $37,636. Florida currently ranks 26th for starting teacher pay; the increase would make the state’s salaries the second highest in the nation.
“We are experiencing a teacher shortage in Florida,” said Governor DeSantis. “With a strong economy and plenty of jobs available in other fields, unfortunately too many college graduates are unwilling to enter the teaching profession.”
Teacher shortages continue to make headlines in states across the country.
In a survey of Indiana superintendents, 92% said they are experiencing teacher shortages this school year, with the biggest needs in special education, math and science, The Herald Bulletin reported. Meanwhile, districts from Connecticut to Alabama to Ohio reported starting the school year understaffed.
And a report released in March by the Economic Policy Institute found: “The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought.” The study found the problem is most severe in high poverty districts, which struggle to recruit qualified and quality teachers.
The authors blamed “low pay, a challenging school environment, and weak professional development support and recognition.”
The organization has also called for expanded benefits for teachers and for $45 million annually in college scholarships for education majors.
Jeanne Allen, CEO of the Center for Education Reform, wrote in The 74 that teachers leave the profession not because of pay but because they have little or no autonomy.
“Giving teachers the ability to innovate would not only improve satisfaction, but also lead to far better results for students,” Allen wrote. “So while headlines (and unions) scream that it’s all about the pay, the real solution is enabling them to be entrepreneurs.”
Many district leaders, including those in McLean County Unit District 5 in Illinois, have developed education programs for high school students.
The district’s Normal Community High School now offers a class called Intro to Education so students can begin exploring a career in teaching, according to WGLT-FM.
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The Borough of Manhattan Community College has partnered with and Public School 125, an elementary school in central Harlem, to diversify New York City’s teaching corps. Their initiative has found that underserved student teachers who do fieldwork are more likely to pursue teaching careers.
Student loan forgiveness and residency programs are two key ways to bring more teachers into the profession, Daniel Espinoza, a research and policy assistant at the Learning Policy Institute, told District Administration in March.
“If a new teacher receives supports—mentoring, common planning time with other teachers in the same subject area, extra resources, and a strong teacher network—first-year turnover can be cut by more than half,” said Espinoza, the lead author of “Taking the Long View: State Efforts to Solve Teacher Shortages by Strengthening the Profession.”
The large Fulton County Schools district in Atlanta and the rural Richland Parish School Board in Louisiana have launched teacher residency programs.
“We’ve been able to attract some of the best and brightest candidates,” Richland Parish Superintendent Sheldon Jones told DA. “It’s creating that pipeline that we truly wanted to see.”
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