Across the state, and nationwide, teachers are choosing to leave the profession in droves. According to the Florida Education Association, as of January 2019 there were 2,200 vacancies in Florida public schools. This equates to 700 more vacancies than the same time last year. According to the FL Department of Education, many subjects are being taught be teachers who are not certified in that area.
Alachua County is feeling the effects locally. In 2011/2012, there were 3,440 applications for open positions. In 2017/2018, there were just 584.
Why is this happening?
According to teacher exit interviews conducted by the Florida Education Association, as well as anecdotal information provided by teachers across the state, educators are leaving for the following reasons:
- Working conditions (large class sizes, lack of support, lack of flexibility, excessive focus on testing, loss of opportunity for professional judgment and creativity, regimented curriculum, lack of opportunities for leadership and advancement)
- Job insecurity
- Low salary compared to other professions (Florida currently ranks 45th in the nation for teacher salary)
What can we do?
A teacher’s work environment is a child’s learning environment, and we can’t have successful schools without supporting our teachers!
- Many of the issues teachers are experiencing can be changed with better legislation at the state level. Contact your legislators and ask them to enact laws that are more favorable to teachers. You can find contact information for your Senator here, and your Representative to the House here.
- Better adherence to the class size amendment (and more funding to allow districts to follow it).
- A more comprehensive school grading formula that doesn’t rely heavily on standardized tests.
- More flexibility in the laws that govern the way teachers and administrators are evaluated , allowing for local districts and teachers associations to create programs that work well based on individual community needs. More specifically, removal of the language in the statutes that requires districts to tie teacher evaluations to student achievement (i.e. testing). This is often referred to as teacher merit pay.
- Reversal of the statute that requires all new teachers to be placed on a one-year contract.
- More respect for the teaching profession in general, which can come through in the ways teachers are supported through legislation.
- More funding for teacher salaries.
- We are asking the Alachua County community to wear red on the first Monday of every month, to show support for educators. #REDforED T-shirts will be available at our General Meetings and other events. Online orders can be placed here. Shirts ordered by the 15th of each month will be delivered to your school (through your PTA) at the end of the month. Post pictures on social media using #REDForED, and tag ACCPTA!