Florida In Crisis: Teachers Are Leaving in Droves
Jun 30 2017
This is a story that has gotten completely lost in Trump’s daily meltdowns and our state’s weekly mass shootings. However, Florida is having a bona-fide crisis.
Our public school teachers are “leaving in droves”:
• A total of 40 percent of new teachers leave within five years after they start.
• Our attrition rate for new teachers is 20 percent higher than the national average.
Brevard Federation of Teachers President Richard Smith didn’t mince words:
They’re leaving in droves, but it’s not just that they’re leaving Brevard, they are leaving the profession period. It is no longer what it used to be.
I’ve got 39 years of experience and I’ve never seen a period of time like these past seven or eight years where this amount of work has been dropped on teachers’ laps.
Thousands of teachers across all counties in Florida are leaving. My own tiny county of Seminole (which is where I get my moniker the “Seminole Democrat”, BTW) lost 306 teachers just this year.
It doesn’t take a genius to see why.
Although we are a major state, teachers’ salaries are the among the top 10 worst in the nation. For just about everything else, we rank at the bottom:
• 42nd for education funding per student
• 49th for the number of teachers per 100 students in public schools
• 2nd steepest decline in education funding
Low pay, long hours, little help with difficult students, and a complete lack of respect from administrators. On top of that, add the constant attacks by Florida GOP legislators who call their union lazy, incompetent, and even child molester enablers. All of this contributes to the low morale consistent with being a Florida teacher.
So what does Rick Scott do to fix this?
He recently signed legislation, backed by Betsy DeVos, to gut public education at levels that some superintendents say won’t even support their public school districts. The new law forces school districts to share their capital projects local tax revenue with charter schools, which effectively funnels millions from public schools to voucher schools that have no checks or balances.
Teachers at voucher schools don’t have to be certified or even college graduates. They also don’t have to contend with the horribly flawed, ever-changing state tests that Florida legislators mandate for public school students, whose scores are used to evaluate their teachers.
(Despite getting all the breaks, Florida charter schools have been receiving “F” scores at three times the rate of traditional schools.)
The Washington Post called the education bill a “scam”, and it was opposed by Floridians by a whopping 3-to-1 margin. Naturally, this being Florida, it passed and was signed into law.