In the Broward school district, teachers make a yearly salary of $55,982- the third-highest in the state of Florida and almost $8,000 above the state average. This may seem like a good thing, but it’s not: almost all of the nearly 180,000 teachers in Florida sit at salaries far below the national average of $57,379, which means our “high paying” district is still well below that amount. If anything, Broward County is lucky.
But this luck ran out before we ever even reached mediocre. Florida is in the bottom third of our country in terms of teacher salary, and on top of that, this same salary has declined by 6.6 percent over the past decade.
“My thoughts on this would not be appropriate to print,” English teacher Donna Amelkin said.
And then on top of that, according to the website We Are Teachers, 98 percent of teachers report workweeks of over 50 hours, with 43 percent of them citing workweeks exceeding 60 hours. Even then, over a quarter say they work a second job in order to feel financially stable. This is prevalent at Douglas, where many teachers provide their own tutoring services for the SAT, math classes, science classes, and a variety of other subjects; one such example is math teacher and tutor Joel Sanders.
“I believe that we as teachers deserve to be paid more, but it’s decent money – it’s something; it’s enough to survive,” Sanders said.
A study earlier this year conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OCED) found that among the 76 countries of varying development surveyed, the U.S. ranked 28th in math and sciences, with Singapore in first, and Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and Finland rounding out the Top 5.
While the U.S. average experienced teacher salary is ranked 12th to Luxembourg’s 1st – ahead of all the aforementioned countries except for South Korea – the standing does not take into account the great gap between their Gross Domestic Product Per Capitas, the measurement, and the standard of living in each country. The U.S. is fifth, while the only other country even in the Top 15 is Singapore at 6th. This means that while the salary in the U.S. is higher, it only appears so because the economy is that much larger; the problem is that we are barely outpacing countries with much lower standards of living and significantly smaller economies.
Meanwhile, other careers, such as computer programming, accounting, and nursing all start at roughly $44,000, according to the National Education Association. Other careers that out-pay teaching: plumbing, surveying, funeral directors, farming, theatrical makeup, news anchoring, train conducting; the list goes on.
“Let me put it this way: If you want to be rich, don’t be a teacher,” psychology teacher Ronit Reoven said.
The teaching profession in the U.S. has an average national starting salary of around $37,500.
How are we supposed to convince the potential positive influences of our future generations with $37,500?
“It’s obvious that the more you pay, the higher quality of teachers you’ll get,” Sanders said. “But now they keep reducing the salary. I’m scared for my grandchildren’s education.”