No Easy 'A' for Rick Scott's Teacher Pay Hike

By: Jim Turner | Posted: January 24, 2013 3:55 AM

Teacher Pay

Photo illustration | Credit: Highlands Today

A lot of details need to be worked out to make Gov. Rick Scott’s $2,500 across-the-board salary increase for real for Florida’s teachers.

Besides legislators designating an additional $480 million specifically as a salary line item in the education budget, each county school district will have to craft a funding formula that can be collectively bargained with the local union so such a flat increase can be crafted to veteran and much less experienced educators at differing pay levels.

Still, the proposal as announced Wednesday -- Scott will repeat the announcement on Thursday afternoon at Twin Lakes Elementary School in Tampa -- was quickly supported by the state’s business community,

(See a roster of business and educators supporting the plan below as released by the governor’s office.)

But skepticism remains among legislators and the teachers’ union.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, remains more supportive of merit increases, which Scott is expected to be proposing next week when he announces his agenda for the 2013 session that includes the teachers' pay.

And Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, favors considering a hike to include all state workers who have been working without any general pay raise since late 2006.

“I think that teachers are some government workers who deserve to have better compensation,” Gaetz said. “But I know corrections officers, I know highway patrolmen … who deserve a raise. And six years is a long time to wait.”

After the Florida Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Scott alluded to his merit play plan for other workers when asked about other state workers, whom the state Supreme Court ruled last week must continue to pay 3 percent of their pay into the Florida Retirement System-defined benefit plan.

“I believe in measurement, I believe in accountability and we’re going to continue to work on that, but right now the right thing to do is an across-the-board pay raise for all of our full-time teachers,” he said.

Meanwhile, not to sound ungrateful, Florida Education Association President Andy Ford called the proposal a “step in the right direction” to in part restore the 3 percent of teachers' pay that was shifted to their pension in 2011.

"A $2,500 increase in pay would certainly be welcome, but it's important to put it in its proper context,” Ford stated in a release.

“Teachers and other school workers lost 3 percent of their salary in 2011 and saw another 2 percent disappear when Social Security and Medicare tax breaks expired earlier this month. But this is a step in the right direction because investing in public schools and the people who work in them is the way to create the workforce of the future.

Comments on the $2,500 proposal from around the state:

CEO of Associated Industries of Florida Tom Feeney

“AIF applauds Florida for having high accountability standards and believes that great teachers should be rewarded for their leadership in helping Florida’s children prepare for their future.”

Nikki Lowrey, state director, StudentsFirst

"Effective teachers are the backbone of student achievement. I can think of no profession that deserves to be better funded than that of teaching. We look forward to reviewing Governor Scott’s proposal to honor Florida’s teachers and recognize them as a vital component to the success of our children in the classroom.” 

Dean Asher, 2013 president, Florida Realtors

"As I travel the state, I hear far too many stories of teachers who can't afford to live in the school districts they serve. Florida Realtors applaud the governor for recognizing the value of those who make such a difference in our children's lives. In addition to being the role model at school, we want them to also be able to afford to be a neighbor in the community." 

Donald Pemberton, Ph.D., director, Lastinger Center for Learning, University of Florida

“I applaud Governor Scott for his commitment to Florida’s teachers and for working to give them a well-deserved raise. Our teachers lead the nation in accountability and teacher quality and this is the right proposal for Florida.”

David Dyer, president & CEO, Chico's FAS Inc.

“Other than parents, teachers have the greatest impact in shaping the educational success of our children. It is critical that we value them and support the effective teachers in our education system.” 

Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett 

“Student success is driven largely by our talented classroom teachers. To retain talent, we must compensate our educators appropriately. I commend Governor Scott for wanting to raise the salaries of our hard-working classroom teachers.”

Executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, Wayne Blanton 

"We are extremely pleased that the governor has recognized the hard work of teachers throughout Florida and we will work closely with the governor’s office and the Legislature to ensure that all of our teachers and employees are recognized for their dedication and hard work."

State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand

“We know that quality teachers are the most important factor in student achievement. Adequate compensation is critical to attracting and retaining quality teachers and the governor’s action clearly illustrates how important teachers are to the success of all our students in Florida.”

Florida State Board of Education member Barbara Feingold

“We must invest in our school’s human capital -- teachers. Without qualified, dedicated teachers, Florida’s classrooms cease to be places where children develop the skills they need to lead successful, productive lives. By providing classroom teachers with raises, we are fostering a cycle of success for Florida’s education system.”

Florida State Board of Education member John Padget

“If we expect students to compete and succeed in today’s global economy, we must provide them with a solid foundation. Teachers are the groundwork for that foundation. It is vital we increase teacher salaries, keeping committed professionals in our public school system.”

Superintendent of Volusia County Peg Smith

“Volusia County has very dedicated and hardworking teachers who are deserving of an increase in salary. They are very focused on the importance of implementing the common-core standards and preparing students for college and careers. We truly appreciate the governor’s attention to the significant work our classroom teachers undertake every day to improve student learning and achievement.

North Florida Leaders Applaud Governor Scott’s Teacher Pay Raise

Mark Brogdon, teacher of the year, Jackson County 

“Glad to hear Governor Scott is pushing for pay increase for teachers. Florida student’s rank fourth in the nation while teacher pay is 46th.”

Doug Conkey, president of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce

“The Clay Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the governor’s initiative to improve the pay for teachers who play a vital role in the Chamber’s pillar initiative to improve Florida’s talent supply and education which directly impacts our ability to attract and grow the business community. The governor clearly recognizes that teachers are the foundation upon which all our education initiatives rest. Their commitment to teach Florida’s students excellence is vital to our future.”

St. Johns County School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner

"We are very appreciative of Governor Scott's recognition of the importance of a strong public school system and the critical role teachers have in the future of our state."

Southwest Florida Leaders Applaud Governor Scott’s Teacher Pay Raise

Peter Bartolotta, executive director, North Port Economic Development Corp.

“I think education is the foundation of a strong and vibrant economy. The governor understands the importance education plays in the economic future of Florida. Supporting our educators will result in positive economic results.”

Wally Cox, superintendent of schools, School Board of Highlands County

“We appreciate Governor Scott recognizing the importance of a quality education and the critical role teachers have in preparing students to become responsible, productive members of a global society”

Jeanne S. Dozier, Lee County School Board member, District 2

“I was very excited when I heard the governor speak at the education summit in Lee County last year. He said education would be a focus area, and he is following through on his promise to put more money toward education.”

Superintendent of Desoto County Dr. Karyn Gary

“Governor Scott has been proactive in developing business and economic opportunities, as well as education in the state of Florida. This is evidenced by his latest budget proposal, which increases teacher salary.”

Jan Gindele, ESE resource teacher, Tanglewood Elementary School, Fort Myers

“The federal tax increase that took effect on the first of the year cut our pay. Teachers work hard and do an exemplary job in the classroom. It's great to have a governor that recognizes that hard work, and rewards teachers with competitive pay.”

Richard Lewis, owner/engineer at HSA Engineers and Scientists; chair of STEM Team of Southwest Florida; former chair of the Chamber of Southwest Florida

“Economic development in Florida depends on a capable and educated workforce. This latest initiative by the governor is an investment that will improve education and help Floridians get jobs.”

David Miller, president and CEO, Chamber of Southwest Florida

“Education is a keystone for economic development. The Chamber would endorse any initiative that creates an educated workforce – and that certainly includes compensating educators competitively.”

Debby Snyder, executive director, DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce; DeSoto County School Board member, District 3

“Our teachers are so valuable to our students and community. The education of our students drives economic development. I applaud the governor for recognizing that value and for making this decision.”

Southeast Florida Leaders Applaud Governor Scott’s Teacher Pay Raise

Catherine Barre, Parametric Solutions president

“As a Florida business owner, I feel that public education is vitally important to keep Florida students on par with the rest of the world. In my engineering business, we compete daily with engineers around the globe. Improved math and science students stem from motivated teachers and adequate classroom supplies. As a mother of two students in Florida public education, I approve of better pay for teachers plus vouchers to cover supplies that are required to make education interesting. As with employees in business, teachers require financial motivation to flourish in public education. Many of my sons' teachers use their own money to cover classroom expenses and it is time to change that policy. I applaud Governor Scott and his initiatives to improve Florida education and, in turn, Florida business.”

Carlos Curbelo, Miami-Dade County School Board member

“Governor Scott is sending a clear message that as a state and as a nation we must elevate the teaching profession. Many of our teachers are overworked and underpaid. Improving teacher compensation is a fundamental component of an effective education reform agenda.”

Katie Leach, District 3 School Board member, Broward County Schools

“There is no more important resource to a classroom than a high-quality educator. I am glad to see Governor Scott is prioritizing an increase in teacher compensation.”

Perla Tabares Hantman, Miami-Dade County School Board chair

“This has been a year in which we have witnessed the powerful impact of teachers, as they boosted graduation rates to historic levels, raised student test scores and helped Miami-Dade bring home the Broad Prize, the highest award for public education in the United States. Teachers deserve to be compensated for these accomplishments, and today’s recommendation by the governor is to be commended as a positive step in the right direction.”

Dr. Lesley Salinero, principal of Stanley Switlik Elementary School and director of Exceptional Student Education, Monroe County Public Schools

“Governor Scott came to Stanley Switlik early before the school day started last year at 7 a.m. to speak face to face with my teachers. Every teacher at Switlik was in attendance well prior to the contracted school day to have the opportunity to ask questions. We were all impressed that Governor Scott did not flinch, nor shy away from any issues, in fact he was clear in his support of education. We are all hopeful and support his initiative to provide increases for education. As a principal I can testify how difficult it is to hire top quality teachers when they can easily earn far more working for consulting and textbook companies.” 

Sharon Watson, Miami-Dade PTA/PTSA president

"Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs is encouraged that Governor Scott has heard the concerns of our teachers and their needs. The governor's proposal will hopefully keep high-quality committed teachers in our classrooms as well as entice new innovative educators to the field."

Central Florida Leaders Applaud Governor Scott’s Teacher Pay Raise

Elizabeth Balcombe, teacher, Clearwater High School

“Governor Scott has been committed to increasing funding for education. His announcement to increase pay for Florida’s teachers is another positive step to ensure our schools and educators have the resources they need to improve education in Florida.”

Tony Buntyn, president, U.S. Cyber Solutions Inc.

“Governor Scott continues to demonstrate his commitment for improving education in Florida. His announcement to increase pay for Florida’s teachers is another example in of that commitment. Our children deserve the best teachers and educational opportunity available. As a father with two children in Hillsborough County public schools, I am concerned with teacher quality. I am the owner of a small business and the CEO mentor for the principal of Monroe Middle School. Monroe is a low-performing school that serves the families that live on MacDill AFB. I became involved with Monroe because I believe that Florida must provide the best educational opportunity possible for the children of our armed services personnel. Doing so strengthens our military while enhancing the communities surrounding those bases. Thank you, Governor Scott!”

Joseph Cuenco, executive director at Science Center of Pinellas County Inc.

"I applaud Governor Scott for his support of Florida’s teachers, demonstrated by his teacher pay raise initiative, and their efforts to ensure every student in Florida is prepared for college and/or a career. Teachers are one of our most valuable occupations that have the ability to positively impact our children.”

Jerry Custin, president/CEO, Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce 

I applaud the governor for taking action on this key issue and doing so in a responsible manner – taking advantage of a surplus budget. There is little doubt that Florida must have a well-prepared workforce to compete for today’s and tomorrow’s job market. That process starts with our educators. Increased compensation combined with a more realistic evaluation system is a great start.

Dr. Carol Eaton, president, Daytona State College

“Our K-12 educators are critical to the future of Florida and the nation as they prepare our future leaders and skilled workers,” said Carol W. Eaton, president of Daytona State College, which offers five bachelor’s degree programs in K-12 education. “The governor’s proposal to raise teacher salaries sends the message that our graduates are valued, and their career choice is worthy of recognition and reward.” 

Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia

"This is great news for teachers. Educators have faced some very difficult budget years, and still we have had tremendous results in the classroom. That absolutely should be rewarded."

C.J. Evans Jr., board of directors, Science and Technology Education Innovation Center

“As a board member of the Science and Technology Education Innovation Center and the father of a 10-year-old and 6-year-old, I am very supportive of the governor’s announcement to increase teacher compensation in the state of Florida. This is a great step forward for education in Florida. Governor Scott is to be commended for his efforts to increase teacher compensation. Florida’s teachers have been providing quality education and we need to ensure that this continues. Governor Scott’s announcement recognizes teachers’ efforts and the need to make sure teacher compensation in Florida is competitive with other states.”

Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins

“Teachers in Orange County public schools are dedicated professionals who work hard every day to provide quality instruction to nearly 185,000 students. This significant gesture in the governor’s budget acknowledges their work and the value of public education in the state of Florida.”

Dr. Earl Johnson, principal, Volusia County Schools

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Governor Scott’s support for an across-the-board pay increase for public school teachers. This is especially good news for Volusia County where, in most recent years, the school district has not had funds for any pay raises for teachers and other staff members. Governor Scott’s decision to use a portion of the surplus funds to go toward public school pay increases is an essential step in investing money in our future. The continued support to public education will net exponential returns.”

Virginia Mazz, teacher - Turie T. Small Elementary School, Daytona Beach

“I truly appreciate Governor Scott’s proposal in support of Florida’s dedicated educators. I am constantly inspired by the efforts of my colleagues in the classroom. The governor’s acknowledgement of these efforts serves as valued encouragement for our state’s wonderful teachers!”

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.


Comments (4)

11:03AM JAN 30TH 2013
Pure despirate politics??!!! All Florida state workers have not had any pay increases in over 6 years!!! How about Law Enforcement--or don't those kind of state workers count ???
Julie Shore, MEd- Elementary Educator
11:54AM JAN 25TH 2013
I love all the positive comments that were shared, however; when is someone going to point out that it was Governer Scott that reduced educator pay to begin with. Now Im starting to see his policy patterns, take away so we can thank you later when you give it back.
Conservative Voice
5:14PM JAN 24TH 2013
Looks like a copied press release from the Governor's communications director to me.

So someone working there 20 years or so does not receive the same percentage raise as a teacher employed two to three years. This has been well thought out hasn't it. Wait until the math teachers figure that one out. Of course no raises for the aides or guidance counselors must mean they are not hard working and needed in the schools.

While we are slapping people in the face how about our police and other state employees. I mean we all know if you get in an accident you call your teacher.
Richard Riker
10:27AM JAN 24TH 2013
Most of the statements supporting the idea which are listed in the article are from people in the business of education so it's not surprising they would support it. However, in this economy with high unemployment, businesses going out of business, the homeless population ballooning, and the common citizen being forced to downsize their lifestyle just to survive the Governors proposal is the wrong one at the wrong time.

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