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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Veteran teachers get pay cuts in DeSantis's year of the teacher

 DeSantis called this the year of the teacher with his plan to raise starting teacher salary. He recently bragged that Florida was now fifth in the nation. This might make a good sound bite or headline, but the reality is this year has become a nightmare for tens of thousands of teachers statewide and thousands in Jacksonville as they are on the precipice of receiving a pay cut. 

The union and the district, both claiming this was the best they could do, have tentatively agreed to a contract which sees first through nine-year teachers get massive raises (something they deserve), some as much as six thousand, while veteran teachers will receive a 91 dollar pay increase.     

You might be thinking I said teachers will receive a pay cut, and they will let me explain how. To fund DeSantis’s starting salary increase, the state ended two bonus programs, Best and Brightest, and school recognition funds. Where flawed these two programs did put money into lots of teachers’ pockets, money the 91 dollars will not make up, not by a long shot. DeSantis robbed Peter, veteran teachers to pay Paul, people not even or just barely in the profession.    

I hope you can imagine how this blatant disrespect makes teachers who have dedicated their lives to the children of Jacksonville feel.  

Now I know what some people are going to say. Times are tough, and people should be grateful just to have a job. The problem is when times were tough with the great recession, teachers did sacrifice. Tallahassee dramatically cut education budgets, and veteran teachers saw their salaries roll back and their contributions to the pension increase. Statewide, teachers lost out on billions.  Then as the economy turned and later boomed, they were left out in the cold; nothing was done for them. Teachers, especially veteran teachers, have already sacrificed for the last decade, and I ask you when is enough? How much are they expected to sacrifice? 

I won’t be supporting the contract proposal. I believe if we are creative, we could do better; we just must have the will to do so.  I would like you to do something too, and that’s please don’t believe the lies about this being the year of the teacher coming out of Tallahassee, and to demand all parties do better, the future of our schools may just depend on it. 

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