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"Who is going to teach the kids?" Florida teacher says state-wide low pay is hurting educators

Posted at 6:09 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 18:09:01-04
  • A new report from the National Education Association shows Florida is number 50 when it comes to average teacher pay.
  • The state ranks number 16 in starting pay for teachers.
  • Watch to hear from one Leon County teacher on his concerns about the news:


A new report from the National Education Association Shows Average Teacher Pay in Florida is the second lowest in the nation.

While the Florida Department of Education disputes the numbers, one Conley Elementary school teacher told me many of his colleagues struggle to make ends meet.

"We're going to lose a lot of teachers because of that." Salvatore Christiano has been working at Conley Elementary School as a 5th grade teacher for 15 years.

He said his take home pay is just enough for him and his wife, but "My four children are all adults, they've all moved out of the house. If I had to feed them...*laughs*"

He's not alone.

New NEA data shows the average teacher salary in Florida is $53,098, ranking Florida number 50 in the nation in that category.

However, the reports shows average teacher starting pay in Florida is a little over $47,000, ranking number 16 in the nation in that category.

Compare that to Leon County's 2024 data from the school district. That shows a teacher with no experience in the district will make $47,500 dollars, earning $100 more per year of classroom time.

That's a new increase that started in October, bumping the base pay for teachers by more than $500 dollars a year.

Leon Classroom Teachers Association President Scott Mazur said change needs to come from a state level. "They're not addressing real issues. The choices by state leaders, by the governor, is to go ahead and have talking points rather making than substantive change."

In response to the NEA's new report, the Florida Department of Education wrote in a statement reading in part "When Governor DeSantis signs Florida's budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the state will have invested over $4 billion dollars in pay raises for teachers since the Governor took office.... That money is going toward increasing starting teacher pay to $48,000 dollars through new legislation."

The Florida Department of Education also questioned NEA's figures, saying "We also have no way to verify that the union is accurately collecting and reporting teacher salaries and not artificially inflating the data with benefits and other forms of compensation."

I emailed the NEA press team to see if they had a response.

They weren't available for an interview, but gave me this statement:

""The National Education Association [] stands by its reports on educator pay in America. Florida is ranked #50 in the nation for average teacher pay."

Christiano said it's definitely an issue he and his colleagues are facing. "Economically, it doesn't make sense for them to continue to be in a field where they are making ends meet. if they can't do that, we're going to lose them. and if we lose them, who's going to teach the kids?"

Experts with the NEA say the national average teacher salary is $69,544.