How is it possible that I am making LESS than I did last year? Noticeably less?
I stopped doing the year-round pay option, which should have put an extra $200 into each check. Yet my last paycheck was $700 less than it was in June.
Some investigative work on my part uncovered additional budget cuts that I have been oblivious to. I knew that the Florida legislature cut out mentoring stipends (that was 10K). However, I was not aware that the funding has not (and may not ever) come through for the 10K that National Board certified teachers get for teaching in Title I schools. That cost me another 10K. I was also not aware that a third supplement has not been processed, which means that I’m out $2500 until the paperwork is completed.
Mind you, even with all of those generous stipends, I was still making LESS then if I had stayed in the Washington, D.C. area. That’s because the step raises in my district (like many in Florida) are typically $200-$400 a year. Between years 1 and 2, the step increase is an insulting $30. It can take years just to get a one thousand dollar raise.
I don’t fault the school district. Broward County is one of the highest paying in Florida. It’s well-organized and consistently on the cutting edge with curriculum and technology. Teachers who criticize BCPS don’t realize the level of corruption and mismanagement that most large urban systems contend with. But the state has got to come through with funding. The hands of district leaders are completely tied.
Instead of paying its teachers consistent, professional wages, Florida has instead provided sporadic bonuses and stipends which it then snatches up as convenient. Last year, teachers were told we would not get paid for mentoring AFTER we had already documented 90 hours of time spent working with new teachers. (A partial payment was later made. This is the equivalent of hiring someone to redo your kitchen for $10,000, waiting until the last appliance is put neatly into place, and then announcing, “Um, yeah. So. I changed my mind. I only have enough money to give you $4,000. But thanks for doing such a great job!”)
I don’t expect to get paid what I am actually worth as an experienced teacher (which would be 6 figures, no?). But apparently I am expected to take a 20K pay cut without protest, because the money I’m losing is all from grants which were ‘subject to legislative funding’. My salary was not high to begin with, considering Florida ranks 50th in the nation in money spent for education. (For those who are not geography buffs, yes, that would be dead last.) And yet the cost of living in South Florida nearly rivals that of Manhattan.
This is profoundly unfair. I’ve written my congressional representatives and emailed the governor. I’ve participated in protests and forwarded emails to everyone who even halfway cares. Things are simply not going to improve as long as there are budget shortfalls. The state will continue to justify stealing from its teachers and refuse to compensate them for what they’ve earned.
Choose the BEST response below:
a) suck it up and do nothing “for the kids” sake
b) blog about the failure of the Florida legislature to prioritize education in hopes of shaming and pressuring the government into funding their promises
c) include my complaints in a letter of resignation
d) both b and c
Did I mention I’d be making nearly $30,000 more in the suburbs of NYC?
Yes, this post has some strong statements. But not nearly as strong as they need to be in order to bring about change. At some point, action has to follow words. Who is willing to take action?
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