$800 million earmarked for pay rises
Many of the more controversial bills approved during the state's 2022 legislative season related to schools and will affect teachers. Some will be more popular than others - such as the Stop WOKE act to name just one.
But at an event at Renaissance Charter School in Wellington on March 21, Governor DeSantis confirmed some good news - that teachers in the state are set to receive significant pay rises, as part of an $800 million package of funding earmarked within the Florida budget.
The governor confirmed that starting salaries for teachers will increase to $47,500 and higher pay for more experienced teachers. The move comes on top of $1000 bonuses paid to teachers in the state during 2021.
Payback for teachers' efforts during the pandemic?
Commenting on the pay awards, the governor hinted that he saw them as being in part justified by the efforts that teachers went to in educating Florida's kids through the pandemic.
"People have really had to step up across the board in the school system, but particularly our classroom teachers. We just want to say that we appreciate it, and we hope that this will make a meaningful difference."
The pay awards for teachers accompanied other budgetary measures intended to benefit schools, which include:
- An increase to the base student allocation by $214.49 per pupil
- A new minimum wage of $15 an hour for all state employees which will benefit many support staff in schools
More money to offset other bills?
While most teachers will likely be grateful for the additional money, if only to help with the rising cost of living, many may also feel that it's due to them for having to implement many controversial laws that the state senate and Governor DeSantis passed during the legislative season, including:
- Approving the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill (as it's become known), and the requisite censoring of books carried by school libraries
- Measures to financially penalize schools that enforce mask mandates for kids
- Proposals to install surveillance cameras and microphones in classrooms
With such bills passing into law, it's likely to heighten the pressure that teachers feel to deliver a high-quality education to Florida's kids, whilst also facing scrutiny from politicians and teachers alike. As such, the additional money may provide a little much needed comfort.
Do you think it's right that teachers get singled out with pay awards for their work during the pandemic or do you think other state employees are equally deserving? Do you think the awards are generous enough? Let me know in the comments section below.