Teachers Still Waiting On Pay Raises Promised In 'Historic' Bill Passing

Teachers in Florida school districts are still waiting on a pay raise that was promised to them almost two years ago, WFLA reported.

And if the pay raise wasn't needed in 2020, it most certainly is now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that from July to December in 2021, a minimum of 4 million people, with some minor fluctuation, quit each month. On a national level, 55,000 workers left their jobs in educational services in the month of December alone.

Still, according to reports from the Florida Department of Education, 31 Florida counties have yet to reach the $47,500 salary minimums for all of their teachers.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the legislature's House Bill 641 in June of 2020, which promised $500 million of the state's budget to raise the base pay for full-time teachers, veteran teachers, and other instructors.

"Florida was previously 26th in the nation for teacher pay and this announcement puts us in the top five, an over 20 spot jump in one year that reflects an historic investment in teacher compensation," Governor DeSantis stated in the original announcement in 2020.

Several Florida representatives and leaders applauded DeSantis for making history with the passed legislation, including Senator Rob Bradley, who in 2020 said, "In October, Governor DeSantis promised to fight for historic teacher raises. Promise made, promise kept. The Governor and the Legislature delivered. This truly is the "Year of the Teacher' in Florida!"

The higher salaries, DeSantis said, would ensure Florida students got "great teachers" and would help alleviate teacher shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Teacher salaries were reportedly supposed to raise to at least $47,500 per year, and the budget to make this happen even increased the following year.

Florida, like the rest of the U.S., is facing a teacher shortage. The Florida Education Association (FEA) reported there at least 9,000 vacant teaching positions available in August of 2021.

"Given the number of teaching vacancies in August 2021, more than 450,000 Florida students may have started the school year without full-time, certified teachers in their classrooms," the FEA stated.

Now, the FEA has pushed for the legislation to raise teacher pay, stating that Florida ranks in the bottom five nationally for teacher salaries. "Many of our education staff professionals earning poverty wages," they said.

"The Legislature has made progress on pay in recent years by dumping failed bonus programs and by moving to raise wages for beginning teachers," the FEA continued.

DeSantis' Freedom First Budget proposal for 2022 includes a note that the year's funding would be used in an effort to make good on the previously pledged increases, and states that even more funds will have to be allocated to meet the initial promise.

"Pay teachers and staff the salaries they deserve," the FEA said.

Newsweek reached out to the FEA for further comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Holds Press Conference
Florida teachers have yet to see the pay raise that they were promised in 2020 in an "historic" law change. In this photo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the Miami Dade College’s North Campus on January 26, 2022, in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images