Ron DeSantis Showcases Support for $500 Million Teacher Salary Increase

On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis showcased his support of a proposal raising teacher pay in the Sunshine State.

Back in October, DeSantis called for raising new teacher salaries to $47,500 in an effort to attract better educators and retain them. This week, DeSantis announced “the approval of $500 million in the state’s budget that will be signed in the coming days, dedicated to raising teacher salaries in Florida. $400 million is invested to raise the minimum base pay for full-time classroom teachers, and $100 million is to raise the salaries of Florida’s veteran teachers and other instructional personnel and insisted this “historic increase puts Florida among the best states in the nation for minimum teacher pay, a bold step in alleviating the teacher shortage and elevating the teaching profession to the level of appreciation it deserves.”

DeSantis weighed in on why he backed raising teacher pay on Wednesday.

“COVID-19 has interrupted our students’ and teachers’ academic year in unprecedented ways,” said DeSantis. “Our teachers stepped up and found ways to keep our students learning and engaged these last few months to ensure students continued to receive the best education in the nation. They taught classes virtually; they made sure lesson materials were delivered; they committed to their students. Great teachers are what our students need as they re-enter the classroom in the fall, and that’s why this remained a major priority in our budget. Florida was previously 26th in the nation for teacher pay and this announcement puts us in the top five, an over 20 spot jump in one year that reflects an historic investment in teacher compensation.”

“I applaud Governor DeSantis for recognizing the hard work of Florida teachers, particularly during these trying times,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “I am proud to support this historic pay increase, which recognizes the value of investing in our teachers.”

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran offered a tip of the cap to state Reps. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, and Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City, for their efforts on the matter.

“I want to thank Governor DeSantis, and the Florida Legislature, including Representatives Plasencia and Overdorf for making Florida teachers a priority,” said Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “This historic legislation will continue to empower our teachers and foster lifelong success for our students. Florida educators stepped up for their students through COVID-19 and once again proved Florida is the best state in the nation to get a world-class education. Nothing can understate the important role that high-quality teachers play in ensuring that these efforts were successful. I believe that every student, regardless of their zip code or family circumstances, should be afforded the same opportunities to succeed in the classroom. That starts with a great teacher. Governor DeSantis is the education governor, Florida is the education state, and 2020, even during these unprecedented times, has proven to be the year of the teacher.”

“I am pleased to see this great legislation signed into law,” said state Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.“Neighborhood public schools are the backbone of our education system. Increasing the salaries of the tremendous teachers who dedicate their lives to serving our students is a priority shared by the Legislature and Governor DeSantis, and we are particularly aware of the sacrifices they have made to help our students adjust to the new learning environment necessitated by COVID-19. Last year’s budget increased K-12 education funding by $783 million, including $363.9 million in flexible spending. This year we built on that commitment with a new Teacher Salary Increase Allocation, along with an increase in flexible funding through the Base Student Allocation. These significant increases allow us to focus on Governor DeSantis’ priority of increasing the minimum classroom teacher salary, while also providing opportunities for districts to invest in veteran teachers. Governor DeSantis is a champion of our public school system and it has been an honor to work with him on significant funding investments and policy enhancements that ensure we continue to elevate our neighborhood public schools.”

While generally more supportive of Democrats in the Sunshine State, the Florida Education Association (FEA) applauded the salary increase.

“This $500 million investment in Florida’s teachers is especially meaningful given the current circumstances. It speaks to the deep value of public education to our state’s future,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “We’ve all heard the reports that many issues, including some of the governor’s priorities, are on the chopping block for vetoes. The decision to leave this investment for Florida’s schools intact is an acknowledgment of the hard work our members do each and every day for Florida’s students. We thank Gov. DeSantis for signing this very important bill into law, and we look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to ensure Florida’s public schools move from the bottom in the nation to the top when it comes to per-student spending.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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