NEW REPORT ON TEACHERS PAY IS DISPUTED BY TEACHERS UNION-Andrew Stelzer

05/10/06

The Florida Department of Education has issued a new report questioning the methods by which teachers’ salaries are compared to those in other states. The report brings into doubt the long-standing notion that Florida’s teachers are underpaid, but the state teachers union says it’s a misleading attempt to distract from the facts. The report, tiled Teacher Pay Review, finds that for calculations of average teachers salaries, definitions of what a teacher is differ by state, with some states including only classroom teachers, while others include guidance counselors and other support staff. The report also says that bonuses could be included in the salary calculations, and that the local cost of living, and the amount of income tax a state has could also be included. The DOE says that the simple fact that Florida has no income tax means that teachers’ salaries are actually $2,700 dollars higher that currently calculated. Cathy Schroeder is the Press secretary for the Florida Department of Education.

ACT- Schroeder “One states salary may be base plus, another state can be just base.�

The report contradicts the rankings of 2 national teacher organizations, which rank Florida 29th in the country in terms of teacher pay and finds they make 6 thousand dollars less than the national average.

ACT-Pudlow “Someone is trying to put spin on a bad situation..’ Mark Pudlow is the spokesman for the Florida Education Association. He says the report is a way to distract that Florida teachers’ average pay of 41,500 is much lower than the national average of 47 or 48 thousand dollars.

ACT-Pudlow “They are trying to cherry pick, I can give you some examples…in Florida they don’t pay a state income tax..they don’t include sales tax or property tax…its better to look at what all teachers pay. Another example, Florida pension fund. You cant cherry pick numbers..�

Florida is in a teacher recruitment crisis. Because of rapid continuous population growth, and the voter approved requirements to make class sizes smaller, the state needs to hire 32,000 more teachers before next school year begins. But because of the states low pay scale, many teachers, even those who live in Florida, are choosing to work in other states. Schroeder says that clarifying what teachers are paid could help with recruitment, which is done county by county.

ACT- Schroeder “This is the stat that is used the most..�

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The report also compared Florida to a select group of 15 states and found that Florida ranked 6th. Winn was quoted in the Sarasota Herald Tribune as saying after viewing the report, he believes Florida is not falling behind, but in fact is competitive. Pudlow calls the entire report an old fashioned PR ploy.

ACT-Pudlow “They pick a few states and all of the sudden there is no salary problem..teachers are going to Georgia.�

Schroeder say The DOE began the study 4 months ago, and while she acknowledges that the report does not in fact revel where Florida falls compared to other states, she calls on the teachers union to get rid of the numbers they’ve been using.

ACT- Schroeder “We encourage the union to make good choices, but when they are using flaws they need to change..’

ACT- Schroeder “Any group would but upset to have their stats debunked..�

Pudlow says the real issue the state should be addressing is how to get teachers salaries up to par and how to get enough instructors for the next school year.

ACT-Pudlow “The figures they have send for years have been fine, they can..�

Education Secretary John Winn presented the report of Tuesday to the National board for education sciences in Washington. He also asked the US department of Education to set up a task force to study coming up with a standard measurement system for all states. Schroeder says that task force will have its first meeting in June. To view the report on the way teachers’ salaries are measured in states across the country, log onto www.fldoe.org/news

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