Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Jacksonville should step up and take care of its teachers.
The JPEF wants to raise your taxes and I think it is a good idea too.
The difference however is what we think the money should be spent on.
I have been advocating for a half cent sales tax for education issues since 2007 and it’s something a few more public education friendly districts have already done.
Palm Beach has a special property tax that pays for Music, PE and Art classes and programs. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-election-palm-school-bond-20141009-story.html
Broward County has a tax that supports technology too. http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/becon/syst/faqs.htm
Then Orange County has a half cent sales tax for school construction. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-orange-school-tax-election-20140820-story.html
But one tax not mentioned above is the three percent income tax imposed on Florida’s teachers and others who pay into the Florida Retirement System. Going on three years ago the legislature took three percent of teachers pay because they said it was needed to shore up the pension system. The problems were numerous. First the pension system did not need shoring up, it was one of the best and healthiest in the nation. Next the money taken from teachers was not put into the pension fund it was put into the general fund and now we know where the surplus Tallahassee is so proud of comes from. Finally my pension did not get three percent better but my pay check sure as heck got three percent smaller. http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2013/01/florida-destroys-its-covenant-with.html http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/florida-supreme-court-upholds-law-requiring-state-workers-to-contribute-3/1270970
You might be saying but three years ago we were on the brink of an economic disaster, to which I would reply, well since we’re not now how about returning that money to teachers and if things were so desperate then why were we giving tax breaks to friends of Rick Scott and other businesses. http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2014/jul/07/florida-democratic-party/rick-scott-cut-education-pay-tax-breaks-democratic/
Okay, I feel like I have gotten a little off topic. I guess my point is a small tax increase to pay for technology and construction are both good and needed things but what about helping out teachers? A recent study said Jacksonville was 108 out of 125 in pay for large districts in the entire nation. http://news.wjct.org/post/researchers-find-error-teacher-study-duval-co-lower-originally-reported
I didn’t become a teacher to get rich but why did it take me ten years to get to 40k, while in other big districts do they either start off that way or it takes less than 5 years to get there and why did Florida feel the need to balance its books on the backs of its teachers? Furthermore why are district administrators worth fair market value but they think they can both get away with and be successful paying teachers on the cheap? http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2014/11/duvals-all-about-fair-market-value.html
So when the JPEF asks a question about a new tax to fund education priorities but leaves out giving teachers a decent salary or making up for their losses it is frustrating.
Teachers don’t become teachers to get rich but that doesn’t mean they should be stepped on, abused marginalized or neglected and it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be paid a fair wage for what they do and if Tallahassee isn’t going to step up and do what’s right then the people of Jacksonville should.
If they are willing to, is a question JPEF should be asking.