Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss teacher and support staff shortages in Florida that have become worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Spar, Florida faced a record number of teacher and staff shortages at the beginning of the school year, as there were 5,000 teacher and 4,000 staff advertised vacancies. Typically, those numbers go down due to new hirings, but this year the number has grown. The state now has almost 5,100 teacher openings and 4,300 staff openings.
A contentious political environment and the stress of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the problem, Spar said. Also, low pay for teachers and support staff is to blame. When it comes to public education, Florida is one of the lowest paying states in the nation, despite being a relatively wealthy state. Florida teachers must be rehired each year, leading to job insecurity. Before annual teaching contracts became the norm in Florida in 2011, Florida’s colleges graduated just under 10,000 teachers annually. Today, there are less than 2,000 new teachers every year.
Spar also talked about the FEA’s recruitment struggles to strengthen its union under Florida’s So-Called “Right to Work” environment. About 60 percent of Florida teachers and 40 percent of support staff belong to the FEA.
Listen to the entire episode to learn more about these topics:
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