Has Governor Scott demoralized public school teachers?
By Roger Caldwell
The Florida School System was rated 5th in the nation in 2013, so they are doing a lot of things right. Floridians have always valued its educational system, and this has always been a priority for Ex-Governor Bush. Many believe that Bush still helps make the decisions about education in Florida.
In 2014, education will be one of the most important issues in the Florida’s governor race. At this point in Florida’s educational system, a transition is taking place, and the leaders are not sure they know what it is, and how to make it work. Teachers and administrators are extremely frustrated, because everything is changing.
There was once a time after three years public school teachers had tenure. Teaching was a secure job, with good benefits, and yearly raises. But with the “Race to the Top” and “No child Left Behind,” the administrators began to put more pressures on teachers, and superintendants put more pressures on principals and administrators. Now everyone is worried about keeping their job, and the standards get harder and harder.
The first year that Governor Scott was voted into office, he made the largest cut in the educational budget in the history of the state. He cut $1.3 billion from the budget and many teachers were spending their own money to buy supplies for their students. At the same time he made it tougher for teachers to do their job, because he passed a bill that took tenure away teachers, and stripped long-term teacher contracts.
The teachers were very angry and the union sued Scott and his administration. Instead of sitting down and negotiating with the teachers, he passed another bill to force the teachers to pay a percentage of their retirement.
This demoralized the teachers and our governor had the worst job approval numbers in the nation.
He acted like he didn’t care, so he staged all his press conferences at charter schools, when he first took office. He did not visit a public school until seven months into his term. Also, he vetoed capital funding for repairs and construction at public schools and universities, while signing off similar money for charters.
For the last three years it has been a rollercoaster ride with Educational Chancellors in Florida. There have been plenty of excuses why they keep leaving, and many experts think Governor Scott is the problem.
In the last two years Scott has added $2 billion back to the budget, but per-pupil spending is still less than what it was in 2008. In May 2013, Governor Scott approved $480 million for teacher pay raises, and said, “It is a great day for teachers.” Finally it appeared that our governor really cared about the teachers, but only half of the teachers have received their raises.
There are 67 school districts in Florida, but only 34 districts have finalized payments for a teacher pay raise with the Florida Department of Education. It is now December 2013, and the teachers who have not received a raise are upset. Again Scott can make excuses, but teachers and Floridians are sick and tired of all his excuses for the past three years.