The Florida Education Association, a teacher union, sued, claiming the bill eliminates the right for teachers to bargain collectively.
FEA President Andy Ford called pay raises “a step in the right direction,” and noted that teachers lost another 2 percent of their buying power when federal Social Security and Medicare tax breaks ended this month.
“This begins to repair the damage that has been done to our students and those who work in our schools,” Ford said.
Said Miami-Dade School Superintendent Albert M. Carvalho in a statement: “We are appreciative that the governor has taken the initiative to launch a proposal that would benefit our teachers, who are the driving force behind our recent success in improving student achievement. We must keep in mind, however, that compensation is a two-sided coin comprised of salary and benefits, and that the increasing cost of healthcare is draining school districts across the state.”
Broward Teachers Union President Sharon Glickman was less than enthusiastic.
“Florida’s teachers need raises, but the state has a long tradition of taking away as much as they give to public schools, teachers and support staff as well as our students,” she said in a statement. “The fact that the governor is proposing raises after he just balanced the state budget on the backs of the state’s middle class by imposing a 3 percent mandatory retirement income tax on all public employees rings pretty hollow for teachers and support staff.
Other teacher union leaders remain skeptical of Scott’s motives.
Hernando County Classroom Teachers Association president Joe Vitalo said it could be divisive to single out teachers for raises and exclude others, such as guidance counselors and media specialists, not to mention other public employees.
“He’s throwing money out there to have people fight over it like scraps,” Vitalo said.
Herald/Times staff writers Toluse Olorunnipa and Danny Valentine contributed to this report.