My 12 year old pug has a nightly ritual of waking me up at 4 am to go to the bathroom every night. Just my luck, as soon as my children are old enough to finally sleep through the night and not need diapers anymore my dog becomes an incontinent insomniac! Will Kafkateach ever get a decent night’s sleep again?  My nightly ritual consists of letting my dog out at 4 am and waiting 20 minutes for him to finish doing his business. Not wanting to wake anyone in the house, I turn to the colossal time suck that is my Facebook newsfeed to entertain myself in the dark. Last night while scrolling through endless meme’s saying something about some weird “covfefe” word or “teachers be like” on the last day of school, I came upon a photograph someone posted in a Santa Rosa County teacher group of a flier that the Palm Beach County school district has been circulating in neighboring counties to help solve their teacher shortage.19029424_251551978582237_4663215482437867946_n (1)

You’ll notice that the first bullet point is about Palm Beach County having the highest teacher salary in South Florida. Don’t get too excited Dade County teachers, starting pay is only $200 more and they are using the same min/max salary schedule that Miami Dade County currently uses. Unlike Dade County, however, Palm Beach County will honor your years of experience and I would actually be making $47,420 rather than $44,900 if they placed me with 14 years experience. Remember that for teachers transferring into Dade County, even if they have 25 years experience, their base salary upon transfer will max out at $46,920. That sends a strong message that Dade County is not interested in recruiting experienced out of county teachers. Which got Kafkateach wondering, is Miami Dade County interested in recruiting teachers at all? The answer: not really.

If they are actually trying to recruit teachers, they are making a pretty sorry attempt at it compared to other school districts. Miami Dade’s version of the Palm Beach flier, “Why Teach in Miami Dade?” can be found here Because the font is so small, I decided to just copy and paste what it says into my blog and add a touch of teacher reality to their selling points. Which is probably not the first time this document has been copied and pasted somewhere. It reads like Dade County Public Schools just highlighted and right clicked this sucker from a brochure from the Miami tourism bureau. Notice how it says nothing about actually teaching or working for Miami Dade County Public schools.

Why Work in Miami Dade?

Claim: Miami…Where The World
Wants To Live, Work And Play!

Counterclaim: Where the Third World wants to live, work and play. Most Americans avoid Miami Dade like the plague. They might come here to party, behave badly, and get a tan during the winter months, but to live and work most Americans prefer Palm Beach.

Claim: Miami is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and exciting cities, attracting residents and visitors from around the world. This booming metropolis offers something for everyone – fabulous climate, fascinating culture, plus world-class arts, entertainment, sports, shopping and dining. It’s all happening here in Miami!

Counterclaim: Miami might offer world class arts, entertainment, sports, shopping and dining but you can’t afford any of that living on a teacher’s salary in Miami Dade (unless of course you are married to a Russian oligarch or plastic surgeon who specializes in Brazilian butt lifts). Also, world class cities have some sort of decent public transportation and good local eateries and clubs that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Claim: A Lifestyle That’s Appealing To All                                                                              
Simply put, there is no better place than Miami to live, work and play. Miami combines the appeal of a tropical resort with all the benefits and opportunities that come with living in a major metropolitan area. White, sandy beaches with palm trees and warm ocean waters are located just minutes from major business, shopping and cultural centers. And who wouldn’t want to live in a place where you can enjoy being outdoors all year-round?

Counterclaim: Um…I can think of a few better places to live and work. Hmm….like Loudoun County Virginia where I can do the exact same job and make $75,000 a year and send my kids to wonderful local public schools. Seasons can be nice and not everyone thinks 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity 11 months out of the year is the perfect climate. Other people might not enjoy having to break out a kayak every time there is a major rainstorm just to get out of their driveway. The warm ocean waters are nice, but swimming is frequently not advisable due to high levels of fecal matter.

Fascinating Cultural Diversity                                                                                                           
With more than half of its population born outside the United States, Miami offers a rich and colorful tapestry of cultures, customs, sights, sounds and flavors. Miami’s strategic position as the “Gateway to the Americas” makes it one of the most fascinating and diverse cities anywhere – a hub of international life, culture and commerce. Miami itself is home to many different communities and neighborhoods, each serving up its own distinct sights, sounds, rhythms and flavors.

Counterclaim: Miami is the capital of Latin America, but if you don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese you probably won’t fit in anywhere or be able to find a job in Brickell. For teachers who don’t speak Spanish, you better have excellent mime skills and good luck with parent contact. People don’t really mix in this city either. They stick with people who cheer for the same soccer team or are from the same island. If you are East Asian, South Asian or African, good luck finding much of community down here. And forget about finding any decent Chinese delivery as well. Mission impossible.

Claim: Endless Arts, Culture & Entertainment
Broadway road shows, cutting-edge theater, symphonic masterpieces, music, dance and art from around the world…Miami has it all! Miami’s cultural offerings are among the most diverse and vibrant of any urban area in the United States. From neighborhood galleries and community stages to major museums and the spectacular Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, every minute of every day can be filled with the endless possibilities afforded by Miami’s arts and cultural community. Miami is also home to popular attractions such as MetroZoo and Jungle Island.

Counterclaim: Adrienne Arscht cheap seats: $88, Jungle Island entrance fee $32.95. Multiply by family of five equals 16% of average teacher take home pay.

Claime: Top-Notch Sports & Recreation                                                                                                                 
Miami is a sports enthusiast’s dream, with championship teams at every level (professional, college and high school), top-notch venues (Dolphin Stadium, American Airlines Arena and Homestead-Miami Speedway), and world-class events (Ford Championship at Doral, Sony-Ericsson Open at Key Biscayne and NASCAR’s Busch Series and Nextel Cup). For those who wish to be more than a spectator, Miami provides endless opportunities for sports and recreation with magnificent parks and beaches (including 84 miles of green space and coastline) plus numerous golf courses, tennis centers and other venues.

Counterclaim: But they still won’t let poor David Beckham build a friggin’ soccer stadium here! The cheapest seats for a HEAT game are $60 (not including parking and libations).

Ok, class, did anyone notice any differences from the “Why Teach in Palm Beach?” flier and the “Why Teach in Miami Dade?” webpage? The Miami Dade webpage actually doesn’t say anything about working for Miami Dade Public Schools!

Another oddity on the jobs page for Miami Dade Public Schools is that they use a third party vendor called “Teacher Match.” Supposedly this is an organization that saves school districts money, and I hope that is the case, but it also sounds like it was founded by a TFA alumni especially since their application asks you to list whether you work for or have ever worked for TFA which I have never seen on any other district’s application. The teacher match twitter profile reads as follows:


K-12 Education Talent Management organization that uses predictive analytics to help schools identify, hire and develop effective teachers.

I have done my fair share of looking at job listings in other school districts and Miami Dade is the only website to have you apply to a general applicant pool of  “Math” teachers instead of listing individual job postings which give the exact name of the position and school.

Miami Dade’s odd teacher application process and lack of recruitment efforts make me think that they are not actually all that interested in attracting new teachers to Miami Dade County. They do hold some recruitment fairs around the district, but they seem aimed at recruiting locals who think that paying $3000 a month to rent a 1300 sq. ft. house with bars on the windows in a bad school district is normal. By recruiting the local population who may have parents from Guatemala who sold flowers at intersections for a living, being a teacher making $40,000 with health care benefits probably seems pretty good. If, however, people have a frame of reference outside of Miami for how college educated professionals are paid in other major cities like D.C. and New York with similar costs of living, they may tell Dade schools to take their forty geez with a Master’s degree for life and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

There are some other indicators that lead me to believe that Dade County is not particularly interested in recruiting or retaining teachers. Ever since the teacher workforce peaked over 22,000 in 2007-2008, the number of teachers working for MDCPS has decreased every year.  I have a feeling they over-hired to meet the class size amendment at the class level back in 2007-8 and ever since Tallahassee has worked to effectively nullify the class size amendment, we don’t need so many teachers anymore.

Another indicator that makes me think Dade County is more interested in removing teachers from its workforce than recruiting more is the district’s current proposal to limit professional leave. Why would the county want to limit professional leave? It doesn’t cost them any money. If they do limit professional leave, however, that means they can actually reduce their teacher workforce even more. If someone goes on leave, the district needs to hire someone to replace them and provide the same job for the teacher at the same pay when they come back. If a teacher doesn’t qualify for leave and wants to take time off to pursue other interests, they will have to surrender their job and Dade County will not be obligated to hire anyone to replace them. If the teacher does want to work again for Miami Dade County they will be placed on annual contract with a maximum salary of $46,900 even if they were making $60,000 base when they left.

Also, UTD’s proposal to put qualified clerical and support staff into teaching positions allows the district to shift employee costs. If a secretary leaves her clerical position to try out classroom teaching, the district doesn’t necessarily have to hire another secretary to replace her.

And let’s not forget the sad situation of over 7,000 Miami Dade veteran teachers who are taking a huge financial hit over the loss of the step schedule. Do you think if the district was really concerned about retaining top talent that they wouldn’t find a way to compensate their most experienced and loyal teachers in some way? They want us to leave. Teachers hired before 2011 are like the last of the Mohicans. We are the last Miami teachers with professional contracts and some right to reach the top of the salary schedule. They want us to get so frustrated and hopeless and financially destitute that we quit. They want us to be replaced by teachers on annual contract, 70% of whom will receive effective evaluations and probably never reach the advertised maximum salary. A teacher workforce that can be reduced and replaced by cheaper teachers at will.

All of this makes me think that instead of asking teachers to donate to my blog so I can stay in Dade County, I should probably be asking the six figure district types downtown to donate to me so I can afford the $10,000 moving truck out of Florida. I’m sure they would be more than happy to see me leave! To donate to the Kafkteach blog, you can click here