Recent studies by the liberal leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and 24/7 Wall Street show that Florida has a teacher shortage crisis and several local school district ranks as some of the worst in the country when it comes to teacher pay.
The EPI study details the “large and growing” teacher shortage which, the report finds, is approaching a tipping point because of low pay.
“The teacher shortage is worse than we thought,” said Emma Garcia, one of the EPI study’ authors.
The EPI and 24/7 Wall Street reports note the national average for a teacher’s annual salary ranges from $52,000 to $60,000 but varies between states.
The reports also find that salaries are so low that around 60 percent of teachers took on extra side jobs.
According to the 24/7 Wall Street report, several regions in Florida had dismal rankings when it comes to teacher pay with three of them placing as some of the most underpaid teachers in the nation.
The Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach area placed tenth on 24/7 Wall Street’s list:
• Regional price-adjusted average teacher pay: $39,790
• Average wages (bachelor’s degree): $40,731
• Number of teachers: 4,180
• Adults w/ high school diploma: 89.9 percent
The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area place sixth on the list:
• Regional price-adjusted average teacher pay: $48,240
• Average wages (bachelor’s degree): $42,753
• Number of teachers: 43,860
• Adults w/ high school diploma: 84.8 percent
The Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area place fourth on the list:
• Regional price-adjusted average teacher pay: $48,940
• Average wages (bachelor’s degree): $50,125
• Number of teachers: 4,150
• Adults w/ high school diploma: 91.9 percent
Garcia insisted, because of the low pay, it’s hard for states to attract new people into teaching. She also said it’s becoming harder to retain teachers due to the low pay.
These studies have their critics. David Williams, the president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance said the EPI mostly blames conservatives, insisting those on the right do not care enough about education.
“Yes, teachers need to be paid more,” Williams told Florida Daily. “Yes, we need to retain good teachers. But groups like the EPI and the teachers unions aren’t telling the public about the working conditions that teachers have to deal with on daily level like student disciplinary problems and conflicts with school administrations and their own local unions.”
Williams also said that if school districts dealt with some of these challenges, they would not face teacher shortages.
24/7 Wall Street found that K-12 educators are some of the lowest paid professionals but, overall, teachers are paid better than many other occupations.
With teaching is one of the lowest-paying jobs for college graduates, Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed ways of attracting new teachers to Florida by offering more money and floating the idea of help eliminating some of their college debt.
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.