I believe that providing a quality education to the next generation of Americans must be at the very top of the priority list for all of us. A quality education will not be realized apart from excellent, dedicated teachers. Having taught on the Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels, I know the challenges that a school teacher faces. Teachers are far too often underpaid, overworked, and unthanked. Now, you would never hear that from most of them. They are servants who are more concerned with their calling to train young people than they are with making money and receiving praise. That is why they are a teacher in the first place. They teach because they care more about others than they do themselves.
I believe that teachers are heroes. I can think of many special teachers from my past that helped to shape and mold me into the person I am today. We should do whatever we can to ensure that our teachers are paid respectable wages and are given the resources that they need to provide the best possible education for our children.
I was very disheartened to hear that Florida, once again, fell behind the majority of the states in average teacher salaries. The latest Rankings and Estimates report from the National Education Association ranks Florida at number 35 compared to all 50 states. The average teaching salary is $46,921.
I believe that the laborer is worthy of fair and just compensation. I believe that an honest day’s work deserves and honest day’s pay. What is a fair and just wage for a Florida teacher? There are many factors that would play into answering that question, but for starters, it would seem obvious that we should not be well below the national average.
A good teacher works tirelessly, often coming in early and staying long after the school day is finished. A teacher’s job far surpasses the time spent in the front of the classroom. Grading papers, tutoring students, meeting with parents, coaching a team, helping with debate, rehearsing with a music ensemble, practicing for the school play, lesson planning, etc. all has to find a place in the day whether it is compensated or not. In many ways a teacher’s job never ends.
It is a tough, exhausting, albeit very rewarding job. There are few things as fulfilling as pouring oneself into a young life and knowing that your influence will have a lasting impact on the future of the student.
Florida should not be ranked among the states that pay teachers the least. Our goal should be to rank near the top. We want quality teachers to come to Florida, not leave because they cannot make a living.
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