Parker’s Point: Florida Teachers Deserve Better

Parker’s Point: Florida Teachers Deserve Better

When Jeb Bush was governor, he talked about having Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). He’s the one that banked himself as the education governor and had his portrait done holding his BlackBerry (go see that painting before the blackberry gets airbrushed). That was near twenty years ago and the most consistent effort since then has been to bleed public schools of money and students. Charter schools with much less oversight and nebulous outcomes have experienced tremendous growth, while some public schools can’t get enough teachers and the ones living close enough to the Georgia border cross over for a better salary.

If anyone has spent anytime in the Florida classroom, they know that assessing what works and what doesn’t is not an easy task. That may be one of the main problems. Legislative decision makers don’t spend any time in classrooms. Teachers are left to deal with exhaustive Sunshine state standards, rigid bureaucracy, a lack of student discipline and readiness, low salaries, and gun laws that turn schools into mini-prisons. We may be graduating kids at what some may consider acceptable rates, but just how “educated” are they?

My own kids are usually bored at school. As a teacher, I got brilliant kids who were bored. I got kids who had no support at home. I got kids sent by the judge. Some parents let their kids come to school in vehicles that a teacher could never afford, yet don’t bother to check their homework, while others let their kids arrive without eating or sleeping the night before. Teachers are expected to deal with this and with standards shaped by narrow-minded conservatives and corporate nepotism.

A real BHAG would be to stop treating school as babysitting. Pay teachers what they should be paid. Instead of $10,000 below the national average, let’s go $10,000 above the national average. If you teach full-time in a K-12 classroom, that’s what you get. Let’s see how that kick starts getting the best of the best into the classroom. You could even extend school an extra month. A lot of kids need it, and I’ll bet most teachers would do it. If you don’t think it would pass, if you can’t get support of your school board, put it on the ballot. That would help us build careers instead of one out of five new teachers leaving within five years.

Better yet, just let the districts take over. Let them tax in an equitable manner, come up with a curriculum that gets kids excited about coming to school, and then let the communities hold schools and themselves accountable. Take the money that the state pays Pearson to create and proctor these awful teacher certification tests and put it into actual teacher training, or give it to the teachers of the year so they’ll stay. We don’t have a teacher or education problem in Florida. We have a leadership problem. The state has helped enough, thank you, and we can do better.

Daniel Parker is an author, educator, and public servant. He may be reached at

12 Responses to "Parker’s Point: Florida Teachers Deserve Better"

  1. Boarding schools should enter the discussion. The amount of money being spent to educate junior and make sure junior eats and sees the doctor can be redirected to boarding schools that control junior’s environment after the 3pm bell rings. Charter schools are making the problem worse. Especially when they can deny admission based on prior grades. That’s how you have a handful of charters that are actually doing well…the basically recruit the best and brightest out of the traditional public school and make a school of elites. Elite schools could be a good thing…allows advanced kids to keep learning at an accelerated pace, but what about the vast majority of our other students? The super rich send their kids to boarding schools all the time and say it’s a better quality upbringing, so we should consider it for all kids, especially those struggling in their current family environments.

  2. Coming from families of educators (both sides of marriage), the issue seems to be less about schools and teachers and more about misuse of current funding (too much spent in administrative costs) and lack of putting responsibility back on parents. If mom and / or dad aren’t taking responsibility and spending their time to ensure junior is behaving appropriately in class, doing homework and studying for tests, there’s not much teachers can do to force education on the child. That’s one reason I’m a big supporter of DeSantis’ plan for schools to better use the money they have rather than Gillum’s typical Democrat plan of raising taxes to blindly throw more money at the problem.

    1. Thank you for reading. Great comments and I tend to agree with you. However, I would ask that you consider only one party has been in control of policies and funding for nearly 20 years now. That would normally call for a change other than your suggestion.

  3. Great article and very true! The money the State has wasted on procuring a contract for FSA is ridiculous. That money should be invested in our teachers and in our children’s education.

    1. Thank you for reading. Total cost accounting would shed more light into how our dollars are spent and for what.

  4. You opinion is far from realaity in Leon County Schools. Pinellas County has made it a priority to set teacher salaries at $40,000 to start. Hanna ran saying no more fat cats..raises for teachers…REALITY CHECK: $100,000 and more for GIllian Gregory, Alan Cox, Sue Kraul, Shelly Bell and Kathleen Rodgers. All hand picked, political appointees/paybacks, none of them were interviewed for jobs, no application needed when you turn on co-workers and help Hanna get elected, all appointed by Czar Hanna while teachers receive no raises and pay for supplies. Shameful

    1. Thank you for reading. If it appears there is favortism or inequities via appointments or salaries, you can do a few different things. You can report it as an ethics issue, you can attend school board meetings and ask for inquiry, and you can continue to write about it. You need to be clear on how it is harmful to the district. Thank you again.

  5. As long as Rocky Hanna pays Gillian Gregory, Alan Cox, Kathleen Rodgers, Sue Kraul and Shelly Bell high salaries without ever interviewing for jobs, teacher have no chance in Leon Schools. But if Rocky keeps dating teachers those teacher will reach settlements that put them in a higher tax bracket

    1. Wow…a guess u have pics of all this happening….Because theres pics of ur boy Pons doing all that and more in the woods of Leon county…. But i know u no better than us …wow

    2. Thank you for reading. It sounds as if you are concerned with nepotism. If that is the case, there are some clear choices you can make in the upcoming elections. Vote and stay involved.

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