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IN THEIR OWN WORDS: SWFL teachers leaving due to some of the lowest pay in U.S.

The report found Florida teachers are paid, on average, $53,098 a year compared to $69,544 nationally.
Posted at 4:57 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 16:57:23-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, according to a new report from the National Education Association.

The NEA report, which looks at teacher salaries in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., placed Florida 50th out of 51.

Only West Virginia placed lower on the pay scale.

“We are a big state. We are one of the wealthiest economies in the nation,” said Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar.

The report found Florida teachers are paid, on average, $53,098 a year compared to $69,544 nationally.

“At the end of the day, we should be top 10 in the nation in paying our teachers and staff,” Spar said.

Exit interviews from Lee County teachers and staffer tell a similar story.

Fox 4 Investigates obtained the written responses in a public records request.

“Salary is too low for a single person trying to live here in Lee County and pay rent,” one person wrote.

“For me to stay, I would’ve needed to receive a raise in pay,” wrote another.

A third teacher who resigned wrote that annual salary increases don’t “match the rate of inflation.”

The Florida Department of Education believes the report is a ploy by teacher’s unions.

“The bogus NEA report does not consider a variety of factors, such as cost of living and state income tax. We also have no way to verify that the union is accurately collecting and reporting teacher salaries and not artificially inflating the data with benefits and other forms of compensation,” the DOE wrote in a statement.

One bright spot for teacher salaries is for new teachers.

The same report found Florida ranks 16th in the country for starting teacher salaries, after a series of increases by the legislature.