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Saturday, August 27, 2022

Passing the millage increase was the right thing to help teachers, but it wasn't the neccassasry thing.

 Passing the millage increase was the right thing to help teachers, especially veteran teachers who had seen their salaries go backward and were the victims of Governor DeSantis's pay new teachers more scheme. 

You see, two years ago, when DeSantis, with much fanfare, announced he would solve the then emerging teacher shortage problem by raising starting teacher salaries, he did so not by allocating new money but by ending two admittedly flawed programs, school recognition funds and best and brightest, that despite the flaws did put money in the pockets of many veteran teachers, pockets DeSantis reached his hands into to pay for his new program.

Fast forward two years, and this disrespect where the state robbed Peter, veteran teachers to pay Paul, new ones, and exacerbated by his constant culture wars against education and the pandemic, the emerging problem had transformed into a full-on disaster, one where a 13-year veteran teacher and a first-year teacher made basically the same amount. 

So the city did the right thing by fixing another of DeSantis's education mistakes, but it did not do the necessary thing.

You see, during the run-up to the vote, the Superintendent, school board, the teachers union, and various public education supporters pushing to pass the milage increase kept a secret from the public, a secret that if the public knew, might stop them from supporting the mileage increase and that's it will do very little if anything to stem the tide of teachers leaving. In short, it will have a negligible effect at best.  

Most veteran teachers, those in the profession for 15 years or longer, lifers, weren't going anywhere. They had decided that despite the overwhelming demand, unrealistic expectations, the odious and often ridiculously unnecessary legislation, and the constant attacks from the governor and his allies, they weren't going to stay. Teaching is in the blood, and if they haven't left by now, they weren/t whether the mileage passed or not.

The real churn and burn in the teacher corp are younger teachers where the mode, the most common number of years of experience is one, and the majority don't last five years. 

More money will not fix that exodus, and the governor's beginning teacher pay scheme more than proved that. No, if we want to save public education, something that will be made worse with the governor's latest veteran and first responders scheme, we have to address what I mentioned above. The crushing workload, the unrealistic expectations, and the governor and his allies constantly using teachers as punching bags to gin up their culture wars. 

A higher salary is the right thing. It was great that the citizens of Jacksonville said that just because Tallahassee has shirked its responsibility to adequately fund education, we won't. It is a good feeling to know a sizeable portion of the city has teachers' backs. That being said, I think it's important people understand what they did, that they understand they did the right thing, not the necessary thing, if they want to stem the exodus of teachers, that is.

You see, most teachers don't make decisions based on money; if they did, they wouldn't be teachers.  

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