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‘The devil is in the details’: Educators say DeSantis is missing the mark on teacher pay

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The National Education Association is firing back at Governor Ron DeSantis, saying his recent budget misses the mark in improving teacher pay, according to our sister station Action News Jax.

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Governor DeSantis signed off on $1.25 billion in funds for teacher salaries on Wednesday. Taking a closer look at the budget numbers, it’s $200 million in new dollars for teacher pay.

“He was intentionally misleading,” Andrew Spar, President of the Florida Education Association, said. “The reality of it is the amount of money that’s been allocated for teacher pay increases by the legislature this year is about 100 or 125 dollars a month on average.”

“The devil is in the details,” Chris Guerrieri said.

Guerrieri has been a teacher with Duval County Public Schools for twenty-three years. He takes issue with the fact that most of this money goes towards new teachers’ starting salaries. He said pay increases after the first couple of years are few and far between.

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“Until last year, I was making $4,000 more at year 22 than a first-year teacher,” Guerrieri said. “That was just insulting.”

The Florida Education Association said the governor’s budget doesn’t go far enough for educators.

“Supporting our students, making sure they have highly trained teachers in the classroom, and this governor’s administration has failed to do that,” Spar said. “We are one of the largest states in this nation. We should lead this nation in the area of public education.”

Governor Ron DeSantis fired back at the National Education Association.

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“National Education Association is a very partisan teacher union,” DeSantis said during a press conference. “They’re obviously going to generate things that are gonna be more positive views for union-dominated states, and negative for people who have actually beaten the teacher’s union, like we have in Florida.”

He made these comments during a news conference on Monday before signing the budget on Wednesday.

“Those are massive increases in teachers salaries that we’ve done since we’ve been in office—since I’ve been in office,” DeSantis said. “For average minimum salary, we are number one in the entire southeastern United States.”

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For the average starting salary, we rank 16th in the nation, according to the National Education Association. We’re in last place for the average teacher salary, which is a drop from our 48th-place spot last year.

The governor’s office sent us a response to the criticism from some educators.

“On Monday, the governor announced his commitment to approving a historic teacher salary funding increase of $1.25 billion in the Fiscal Year 2024–25 budget. Since 2019, Florida has invested over $4 billion in teacher pay increases and has raised starting teacher pay by nearly $10,000. Yesterday, [Wednesday] the governor signed the “Focus on Florida’s Future” budget, which included $1.25 billion (an increase of $201.8 million from last year) in funding to increase salaries for teachers and other instructional personnel.” – Spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis

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