News


POINT OF VIEW: Give Florida teachers a raise; pay the national average

Palm Beach Post

The Florida Chamber of Commerce recently launched an interesting and useful website for Floridians called Launch My Career Florida.

This new website helps people set their career goals by looking at their educational attainment and the kind of lifestyle they would like to lead. It then calculates how much they must earn to achieve that lifestyle goal.

Not to be critical of the news site, but it points out something very disturbing to anyone who cares about our public schools and the future of our state.

Let’s take a typical Florida teacher: college educated, perhaps with advanced degrees and/or certifications, and let’s even up the scale and say they have 10 years of experience. According to the website, this highly trained and highly educated (30 percent of Florida teachers have master’s degrees) public schoolteacher with a child will not even earn enough to afford a two-bedroom, apartment with an average car.

Keep in mind, one-third of Florida teachers have a master’s degree or other post-graduate educational attainment. These are highly educated professionals who are engaged in one of the most important jobs in our society. Not only are they paid well below the national average — $10,000 less per year according to National Education Association — the average educator is not even paid enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment with a modest car and a child, let alone what many of us would consider a traditional middle-class lifestyle. Simply put, this is outrageous and it needs to change. Our teachers, our students, and our state deserve better.

We need to once again push for a law that merely says that Florida teachers’ average salary should be at least at the national average teacher salary. I am not asking for Florida to pay teachers in the top 10 percent or even above average. While that would be my personal goal, I recognize life is one step at a time. Paying an average salary means the Florida teachers will earn $10,000 more a year than their current salary.

This would mean that someone with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, advanced certifications, and an excellent track record could afford a home, a car and to be able to put food on the table for their families. Highly trained professionals should not have to go on food stamps in order to raise a family.

KEVIN J. RADER, BOCA RATON

Editor’s note: Sen. Kevin J. Rader represents the 29th District in the Florida Senate.