Now that the economy has been in an economic recovery for several years and a national teacher shortage has ensued after Obama’s disastrous Race to the Top program decimated the profession, especially in Florida, market forces may finally be in your favor dear teacher. Will Adam Smith’s invisible hand of supply and demand create a scenario where districts try to race to the top of teacher pay? We can only hope that after years of salary stagnation, the economic recovery finally trickles down to the little people staffing our schools. Although I don’t imagine many school districts will follow suit and start offering $80,000 salaries in an attempt to retain teachers like one desperate school district in Utah http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/remote-utah-school-district-offers-80000-teaching-salaries, we have started to see larger pay raises in Florida in recent months. Just this week, the Broward Teachers Union negotiated a deal for a 5% increase for most of their teachers http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-broward-teacher-raises-20170426-story.html.
This amounts to a little over $2,000 for most teachers, certainly not life changing or enough to compensate for the regions high cost of living compared to low salaries or the damage done to veteran teachers who were illegally and involuntarily removed from their grandfathered step schedules, but it’s more money than most teachers have seen in years. Certainly, the United Teachers of Dade should be able to negotiate a similar raise of at least 5% in order to compete with neighboring Broward county. For Florida teachers wanting to be more proactive in winning the race to the top of teacher salaries, might I suggest browsing the National Center for Teacher Quality report comparing teacher salaries and contracts across the nation. http://www.nctq.org/districtPolicy/contractDatabaseLanding.do
Let’s do a quick comparison of the teacher salary schedules in Loudon County Virginia to Miami Dade, both of which have a similar cost of living. The first thing that stands out is that teachers in Dade don’t really have a salary schedule at all. The report shows that the district no longer has a salary schedule and when it comes to the average increase in pay earned for each year of experience, the answer is N/A (non-applicable).
Let’s jump down to the report’s answers to the same questions regarding salary schedule, average pay increase for additional years of experience, ANNUAL COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTs and master’s pay for Loudon County teachers. Starting salary in Loudon County is over $47,000 (haven’t hit that number yet after 14 years of teaching in Dade). If I moved to Loudon County I could make $67,000 right off the bat and work my way up to $94,000 by the time I retire. Master’s pay in Loudon is $5,700 compared to $3,100 in Dade. The difference in master’s pay alone amounts to $78,000 over the course of one’s career. Let’s say I move to Loudon County tomorrow, start making $67,000 and never get a pay raise again for another 15 years. I would still make $300,000 more over the course of my career than I would remaining in Dade County.
The report states the following: “Teachers in most districts earn a raise for each additional year of experience and an annual adjustment for cost of living and other factors. What is that average annual adjustment? (reported as a percentage of change from the previous year).” For Miami Dade, the answer was actually negative 0.20 percent!
Your homework assignment this weekend teachers should be to browse this report, find a district that will pay you what you are worth, and update your resume. Or you can remain in a state that makes you itemize $290 worth of post-it note and pencil purchases while politicians like Erik Fresen manage to avoid filing federal tax returns for over eight years.