DeSantis aims to raise starting pay for Florida teachers

Florida Gov. DeSantis at a news conference last month. Photo courtesy Governor’s Press Office

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that he wants to increase the minimum salary for teachers. He plans to invest more than $600 million to raise the minimum salary to reach his goal of making the state of Florida second-best in the nation for starting teacher pay.

Teachers in general have had a long history of feeling like they are underpaid and under-appreciated across the country.

But Florida has one of the nation’s best economies, ranked No. 4, and the state is considered a trillion dollar economy.

With that being the case, DeSantis hopes to resolve Florida’s teacher shortage by raising salaries.

In a press release on, DeSantis said, “My proposal to increase the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500 will help alleviate this shortage and elevate the teaching profession to the level of appreciation it deserves. This is long overdue, and I look forward to working with the Legislature to make this a reality.”

In Leon County, the average salary for a teacher during the 2018-2019 academic year was $44,103, according to the Florida Department of Education.

But  neighboring Gadsden County has the lowest pay for teachers in the state with salaries averaging $38,825, which falls under the national average.

One of DeSantis’ key platform points during the 2018 campaign to become governor was education. DeSantis plans to boost classroom spending for students and teachers with the 80 percent classroom spending plan, encourage innovation and expand choice in education. His plans also aims to recruit, reward and retain good teachers.

Public school teachers in Chicago have been making strides for better pay and better funded schools since the ’80s, and recently went on strike for almost two weeks.  But as of today, Florida teachers are not allowed to go on strike after passage of a 1974 bargaining law, after 35,000 teachers went on strike due to massive education budget cuts.

Studies also show that Florida residents don’t care a whole lot about investing in education either. Education came in 7th place when dealing with issues Florida residents felt strongly about.

Polls have shown that Florida voters care more about healthcare, immigration and the economy as the state moves toward the 2020 election.

For the 2018-2019 academic school year, Florida was dealing with a shortage of teachers in the areas of general sciences, English, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Exceptional Student Education, mathematics, reading and physical science.

“With a strong economy and plenty of jobs available in other fields, unfortunately too many college graduates are unwilling to enter the teaching profession,” DeSantis said during the announcement.

DeSantis hopes that his plan will encourage more college educated students to teach and be compensated better for it.

DeSantis’ plan is included in Florida’s 2020 governor’s budget and will include 101,000 Florida teachers in the pay raise.