BY SASHEEN JOSEPH
Teachers in South Florida are leaving their classrooms for good, and it’s not to go live out their retirement years.
Not only was Florida ranked 42 out of the 50 states on “teaching attractiveness” but, since 2015, over 1,000 teachers in South Florida—specifically in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties—left the teaching profession after just one year.
Many factors of the Florida public school system seem to be responsible for this exodus of teachers and the subsequent scramble to fill vacant classrooms, with lacking pay being at the forefront.
To supplement their teacher salary, it’s a common practice for teachers to take on second or even third jobs in order to achieve a desirable monthly income.
“I’m not fond of the pay, but I teach because I love it.”
“My second job is working for parks and recreation at the City of Plantation,” English teacher Hailee Yaeger said. “[I do this because] so far I’m not fond of the pay, but I teach because I love it … While more money would be nice, I’m pushing on through.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on October 4 that he will be pushing lawmakers to raise the starting minimum salary for teachers to $47,500. This is an almost $10,000 increase from the current average starting salary, $37,636. However, this proposal would only apply to incoming teachers or teachers that are still earning the minimum salary.
The idea behind this raise was to promote interest in the teaching profession since it is dwindling every year. But this wouldn’t prevent more experienced teachers from leaving, considering that they are not receiving a raise in this proposal.
This leaves most teachers with the original options to increase their incomes. Aside from having side jobs, teachers can also take on more work within school, even though the consequences aren’t ideal.
“I teach extra classes so I get a supplement for not taking a planning period. But on the other end of that, I have a lot of planning that I now have to do at home,” English Department Head Lisa Jones said. “I make up for the salary that I should [have] by virtue of being in the school system for 20 years. I make up for that by taking on any extra [work] that I can.”
“I make up for the salary that I should [have] by virtue of being in the school system for 20 years.”
Teachers at CCHS are supplemented with an additional $6,000 per year for teaching seven out of the eight class periods. Or, teachers can opt out of having a planning period to teach all eight periods for an additional $12,000 per year.
Teaching a full schedule results in little time to do other work such as lesson plans or grading papers. Consequently, many teachers take their work home with them to complete.
This isn’t ideal because not only do many teachers have families to take care of, but an unclear distinction between work and home makes for an overwhelming lifestyle. Dissatisfaction with teaching is an additional factor contributing to the increasing unemployment rates for teachers in Florida. Many teachers that are leaving the profession are following an alternative career path.
“[I] was getting burnt out and wanted a change of pace … The job became monotonous and was not giving me a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction,” former environmental science teacher Daniel Wallace said. “The traditional classroom had become way too confining and stressful for me. I often felt more like a babysitter [rather] than a teacher or professional educator.”
Photo by The Lariat Photography