Florida is facing a serious teacher shortage, and itâ€™s no surprise given the low pay, low career esteem, long hours and bureaucratic burdens of standardized testing and paperwork. Making the stateâ€™s classrooms a more attractive place to work will require more than higher pay - although that would be a start. It will take better training, more freedom in the classroom to teach and, to quote the late Aretha Franklin, just a little respect.
Pay is part of the problem. Starting pay for a teacher is as little as $30,900 in rural Taylor County. Even Pinellas Countyâ€™s starting teacher pay, which at $43,000 is in the top tier statewide, is below the countyâ€™s median family income.
But itâ€™s not just pay. Teachers routinely have too few resources, covering school supplies and other essentials out of their own pockets.
They are given too little time to plan so that work hours extend deep into the evening and on the weekends. Their classroom time can be so proscribed by picayune district and state rules that they have little flexibility. Tests and assessments come so frequently that they interfere with classroom instruction and become education-interrupting exercises in frustration.
Whatever the field, good hiring managers find the best people, pay them well and give them freedom to do their jobs.
Give teachers the tools they need, the pay they deserve and the respect they merit, and all the rest will take care of itself.