The state’s education system must have reform

This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (October 7th, 2021).

The public school system has failed our teachers. The same people who are in charge of our education – largely influencing our future – don’t get proper compensation for it. The government never tries to fix that. And when they do, it’s never to actually help the teachers, it’s to try and encourage teacher employment.

For example, most recently in Florida, our governor increased the minimum starting pay for teachers to $47,500 a year. SCPS increased the starting pay to $46,310. For new teachers this was a great improvement, and a well deserved one.

For more experienced teachers this was the short end of the stick. Their salary barely increased if it did at all, and overall their pay wasn’t adding up to their experience levels.

Sombody who’s been working as a teacher for 17 years would get the same starting pay as someone who’s working as a teacher for the first time. That should be criminal, but it is not.

To add to it, teachers only get raises whenever the school board decides –
or is pressured to by the teacher union- to increase wages. This only occurs once every three or five years, much less often than the standard once a year mild increase. This is problematic, because while inflation increases prices and cost of living skyrockets, teachers’ salaries remain stagnant. Teachers don’t even get scheduled contract performance raises or cost of living raises.

It’s no wonder many experienced teachers are leaving the scene, they could make so much more money using their degrees and knowledge elsewhere, and there is only so much that love for teaching can do, when you need to feed and house your family and the government won’t pay you properly. The government completely disregards older teachers to get newer ones. Very much so a quantity over quality sort of situation.

Another way the government continues to fail to support our teachers is by removing their benefits. Teachers in theory are supposed to have health benefits. But these health benefits are little, and to include their family or children in their health insurance plan from the school costs nearly half their check, after counting taxes.

It’s about 2k a month for the school’s family insurance plan, essentially any health costs come out of pocket for the teacher. And if the teacher’s paycheck is only really somewhere between 2-4k a month, healthcare genuinely takes almost half of their check. It is essentially impossible for a teacher to have a reasonable standard of living for themselves and their family and to have health insurance.

That’s a stain on our school board, on our government, on our society. Especially considering how the government will spend millions of dollars renewing their Springboard contract-the contract that gets us those English workbooks we throw away- when they know very well teachers won’t or will barely use them at all. We are throwing away money into the wind when we could be spending those funds to give teachers an acceptable wage.

If we don’t want to continue to lose teachers, we must encourage change and a better standard for teachers. Because if this is how much we value our teachers, what does that say about us, about how much our education matters? This can’t be the standard that we set up. We can do better. We will do better.