Skip the raise, governor, fund schools properly

 

I am a National Board Certified Teacher with 30 years of experience in public schools. I do not want a $2,500 raise. Instead, I want Gov. Scott to govern appropriately and play by the rules as teachers do, and as we teach our students to do. Scott does not have a wand to wave to issue us a raise. That’s magic, not playing by the rules. After his budget cut $1.3 billion to education funding two years ago, even if it was followed by a $1 billion increase the following year, it is obvious that neither he nor the Florida Legislature support public education.

It is too late to make up for that with a sound bite about a $2,500 raise. The Legislature gave teachers a 3-percent pay cut in the form of reduced employer-pension contributions. The Florida Supreme Court upheld that action. That’s three out of the three of Florida’s branches of government whose actions show that they do not support teachers and public education.

However, we accept it and will move on. We accept it because that is the system of government we have. And we will move on because we play by the rules. We want Scott to do so as well. So instead of a raise, I want the governor and the Legislature to:

-- Work together to craft a budget that restores previous cuts and increases education funding to public schools.

-- Slow down the race to award funding to charter and virtual schools at the expense of traditional public schools.

-- Encourage districts to negotiate, not one-time bonuses that would not be tied to income for retirement purposes, but actual higher salaries for all teachers.

-- Pause efforts to tie teacher evaluations to test scores until they are able to devise a valid and reliable means of connecting the two.

-- Promote the negotiation of more creative salary scales that reward teacher leadership and collaboration within schools, instead of narrowly focusing on individual test scores, which encourages competition at students’ expense.

-- Restore funding to the Dale Hickam Excellent Teaching Program, which recognizes the exceptional value (professionally and financially) that Florida’s many National Board Certified Teachers provide.

All of these measures, unlike a one-time bonus, would require the governor, Legislature and education professionals to work collaboratively to resolve current issues in education. This would benefit not politicians, but students. So I ask the governor to put down his wand and play by the rules.

Kathy Pham, writing teacher, Hialeah Senior High School, Miami Shores

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