Florida has raised starting salaries for teachers, but longtime educators say they face sluggish salaries

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Florida ranks nearly last in the nation when it comes to teacher compensation.

While a new report from the National Education Association found Florida is 16th in the nation with an average teacher departure earning just over $44,000 a year, the average Florida public school teacher earns only about $51,000, which puts Florida 48th in teacher pay nationwide .

WUSF talks to teachers about the challenges they face in the classroom and why some leave the profession. Here’s what two told us about their salaries and cost of living.

“My name is Tracie Overdorff. I teach at a public charter school in Hillsborough County. I teach middle school. I actually teach all three grades, sixth, seventh, and eighth. And I teach an elective called STEM. And I also teach coding.

“I’m working on solar cars today. And I watch my students wondering, ‘Can I go out and test?’ And I’m like, “Okay,” and I watch them out the window testing it and they’re outside, it works. And they’re just jumping up and down, because this solar car that they couldn’t get to at work is running, and they’re so excited. And so it’s amazing. It’s really, yeah, I love that part of teaching.

“For me, I’ve always said it’s never the kids. If I quit teaching, it’s never the students. Teachers‘ salaries are huge. I know they’ve tried to raise and d increase and we have increased the basic salary of new teachers.

“But as a teacher who’s been teaching for 25 years, we’re sandwiched. So where you raise the lower level, the higher levels get crushed. And I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but at 25 years, you no longer get pay raises.

“I mean, we’re educating our young people, we’re educating your children. Isn’t it worth it? Isn’t it worth as much as you say other industries are worth? I say yes. they are your future.”

Learn more about WUSF’s Teacher Voices series

“My name is Oren Shahar. I work at Spring Hill Classical Preparatory School in Pasco County and teach seventh and eighth grade science.

“If I’m not coming back next year, it’s because I just can’t afford to stay in the area.

“Like I had to think about myself, literally, being able to keep a roof over my head. If I rent from where, if I renew their choice to raise my rent by 20%, have to move somewhere else. And if I don’t move somewhere else, I need to find some other job that pays more.

“I’m lucky that I’ve already paid off my student loans, so I’m not worried about that. But I still have to work with the fact that my car is over eight years old. is the time to buy a new car, which means I must be able to find a car and be able to afford a car. And with prices as they are now with inflation, that won’t happen to teachers’ salaries.

“I don’t live extravagantly. But I have to be able to live on the money I earn. And that’s one of the reasons why we have a shortage of teachers.

“Yes, the governor, and I applaud him for raising the base salary of teachers to an average level compared to other states. But that was before, the prices of everything went up tremendously.”

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