Gov. Ron DeSantis touts teacher pay bump, but unions say it's not enough

'Teachers can't afford to be teachers,' Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar says
Posted at 11:22 PM, Jun 10, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — More money will soon be in the pockets of Florida teachers. The governor announced Monday morning he would be signing off on that portion of the next state budget.

It'll guarantee another pay increase for public teachers, totaling about $1.25 billion. That's the highest allotment in Florida history. It’s also about $200 million more than the current fiscal year.

Speaking in Hialeah, Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted the increase as one more reason why U.S. News & World Report ranks Florida tops for education for a second consecutive year.

"Florida's education system is No. 1 in the nation, and we want to make sure good educators are attracted to Florida with attractive compensation," DeSantis said in a statement. "I am proud to have invested more than $4 billion for teacher pay increases since the beginning of my time in office, and I will continue to push for increased funding for Florida’s teachers."

The money looks a bit different when you average it all out equally among Florida's approximately 185,000 teachers. The pay bump of about $200 million boils down to nearly $1,081 per teacher. Over nine months, that’s roughly $120 a month before taxes.

Florida already ranks among the lowest in the nation for average teacher salaries. The National Education Association (NEA) listed the state 50th, in a recent report. It's why Florida's largest teacher union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), said Monday more investment was needed.

FEA President Andrew Spar renewed calls for $2.5 billion over the next seven years. He believed that would place Florida in the top ten for teacher salaries.

"Teachers can't afford to be teachers," Spar said. "All they're asking for us to be paid enough so that they can pay their bills, go to the doctor when they're not feeling well, and do their jobs."

The governor and state education officials have dismissed the NEA's poor ranking, saying it's favorable to unions. They also touted Florida's starting teacher pay, which is among the highest in the country and Southeast U.S.

DeSantis is expected to sign the full budget in the coming days.