Florida teachers got some bad news this week that bolsters their case asking for better pay: The state dropped from 45 to 46 on the National Education Association’s annual report of average teacher salaries.
And the projection is that the state will fare even worse going forward, unless something changes.
According to the report, which became public this week in North Carolina, Florida’s teachers earned an average of $48,168 in 2017-18, slightly below the $50,000 mark that some state lawmakers have sought and $12,294 less than the national rate. The national average teacher salary increased from $59,534 in 2016-17 to $60,462 in 2017-18. Average teacher salaries in 2017-18 ranged from a high of $84,227 in New York to a low of $44,926 in Mississippi.
For 2018-19, the teachers union projects Florida’s gap will grow to $13,387.
Florida’s average salary, adjusted for inflation, has declined 11 percent, compared to 4.5 percent nationally.
“It just goes to show that we have a funding problem for [Florida] public schools that isn’t being addressed,” Florida Education Association spokeswoman Sharon Nesvig said. “The Legislature needs to do more.”
The report comes shortly after the FEA joined its national organization in a campaign calling for higher public education funding. Teachers and others have complained that the state Legislature has embraced the idea of using taxpayer money to fund private-school vouchers and charter school expansions, which they say diverts money away from the public school system.
Increasing teacher pay lately has come from the Legislature in the form of bonuses, which do not carry a guarantee from year to year, and do not count toward a teacher’s pension. Several school districts have gone to impasse in their contract talks because of pay disputes.