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Chris in Florida is a regular reader of the blog who teaches in that state. Florida is now experiencing a serious loss of teachers, as experienced teachers leave and the number of new ones are not enough to take their place. Is this what the reformers want? Did they plan to destroy the teaching profession or did they forget to consider the consequences of their actions?
“My teaching friends, most of whom are retiring early thanks to having a spouse with a great pension plan or a high-paying job, have been urging me to apply for a coaching job in my district because they say I need to share my knowledge and experience with more than just my own class.
“I wouldn’t even consider it because A. it requires a master’s degree just to apply yet B. if you are hired as a coach you lose the paltry $1,800/year increase that a master’s degree brings you. Got that? Moving ‘up’ and taking on more responsibility actually nets you LESS pay.
“I have 2 master’s degrees but only get the one measly $1,800 bump (divide that by 26 yearly paychecks and I get a whopping $69.23/paycheck for completing an MA at a prestigious university with a 4.0 GPA.
“The step system is now outlawed; districts can’t use seniority or degrees in determining salary, though most still have the vestiges of one in place until the merit pay law goes into full effect next year.
“The union’s playbook on this was to negotiate a Memo of Understanding with the Superintendent that held teachers harmless until the law must be put in place permanently.
“The hope was that lawsuits, public outcry, and lobbying would get the law repealed or replaced. It didn’t happen during this year’s legislative session and so next year things are going to get REALLY dangerous and ugly for any teacher who doesn’t teach upper middle class white kids in our district, about 5 or 6 schools out of nearly 40.
“Public shaming and lobbying is less than worthless. The leaders of the Florida legislative bodies and their spouse/families all profit handsomely from charter school and voucher-related businesses and they pass multiple laws every year that further enrich themselves and their cronies.
“When multiple newspapers from around the state called them out for double-dipping and conflict of interest they told the voters to buzz off. They will all move into very lucrative consulting and lobbying positions after the mandatory retirement after 2 terms in the legislature so they don’t care what voters think or say at all.
“No other salary increases are possible unless you give up your seniority and due process rights and going the ‘bonus’ program, which to no one’s surprise, went only to teachers at upper middle class white schools. No one at a Title I schools qualified for that ‘bonus’ or the SAT/ACT ‘bonus’ because of their students’ test scores.
“I am less than a decade away from retirement and I realize that, because I dedicated my life to teaching poor children of color, I will never own my own home, appliances like a washer and dryer or refrigerator, have a new car, or be able to afford much more than beans and rice until I die.
“This is the reward Florida gives a National Board Certified teacher with 2 master’s degrees and over 20 years experience.
“I’m glad for the teachers who are able to leave and build a new life. I waited too long, I guess, and now will have to look at ways to continue working until I die once the DROP program forces me out.
“I never cared about money throughout my career or my life; I just wanted to teach kids to love learning like I did. Now, I guess, I am paying the price for my naiveté but I don’t regret a moment.
“I just wish we could jail all the reformers, starting with JEB! Bush, and take back our beloved profession and save our public schools before I’m gone.
“I’ll keep praying!”