Recently a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, Scott Maxwell wrote an article called, “Public schools, teachers: Worth fighting for.” Unless you have living under a rock (or out of the country), you know that public schools all over the country are hurting for funds, but Scott Maxwell is referring specifically to schools in Florida. He argues that teachers in Florida are not paid what they are worth. I suppose another way to say that is that teachers in Florida are not paid enough to attract the best of the best. He also states that over the last few years that the average salary for teachers has dropped. Well, I don’t know how many school districts have actually decreased teacher salaries. Perhaps some have. Perhaps he simply means that compared to the cost of living index, salaries have dropped. Or maybe he means that many good teachers are leaving the field and others are retiring early often to get better paying jobs in the private sector.
Salaries in the private sector have always been higher than salaries in the public sector, at least the public school sector, but recently the gap has become a widening abyss. Interestingly, salaries in other governmental organizations for the same or similar job duties are typically higher than in schools (especially in the technology areas). Ok, to be fair, that is typically in the Federal positions as opposed to local government. But I find it insulting to hear politicians like Mike Huckabee not make that distinction and simply label all public employees as overpaid.
On the other hand, Scott Maxwell in his above mentioned article quotes the statistics that Rick Scott (Governor of Florida) raised his chief of staff’s salary by 26% to $189,000 and that House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos paid more than 60 of their top staffers $100,000 plus salaries. Yet these same state legislators cannot find the money to keep the schools funded and to keep good people, teachers, technical staff, management and others from leaving education for more lucrative careers. Are they representing us? Are they representing you?
It doesn’t matter if you have kids in public schools or not. Do you want Florida to be able to attract top talent, both employees and companies who could provide jobs to support our economy, or do you want to see all of our best talent move out of the state? Contact your state representatives and tell them what you think. If they don’t listen, fire them at the next election.
Well, what are you waiting for…