DeSantis to make sweeping changes to teacher unions, teacher safety

DeSantis Q&A on education
DeSantis Q&A on education
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 3:01 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 23, 2023 at 3:05 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Gov. Ron DeSantis announced significant changes for teachers across the state of Florida, including changes to education unions, teacher pay and classroom safety.

DeSantis announced his legislative proposal, the Teacher’s Bill of Rights, that the governor states would empower educators to be leaders in their classrooms, enact paycheck protection, reduce terms for school board members from twelve to eight years, and invest another $1 billion in teacher pay.

The legislation would prohibit unions from collecting dues directly from teacher paychecks, prohibit distribution of union materials at the workplace. Employees would have to submit a form acknowledging that Florida is a right to work state and union participation is optional. Unions would also have to represent 60% of the staff instead of the current 50%.

DeSantis says the measures are to create accountability and transparency and will allow state investigations of unions suspected of fraud.

During a press conference Monday, DeSantis also announced he would empower teachers to maintain safe classroom environments by creating a “stand your ground” classroom safety policy to protect teachers who are often judged unfairly for maintaining order and safety in their classrooms. There was no further elaboration into what DeSantis meant by that.

Since 2020, the Governor has secured more than $2 billion in funding for teacher pay, the largest pay increase for teachers in Florida history. This funding has allowed Florida to achieve an average starting teacher salary of $48,000 for the 2022-2023 school year, meeting and exceeding Florida’s goal of an average starting teacher salary of $47,500. The Governor is proposing an additional $200 million to continue raising teacher pay, bringing the total to $1 billion for teacher pay in his recommended budget for the next year.

This $200 million increase over the current year’s budget will be provided to school districts with maximum flexibility to best fit the school district’s needs. School districts will be able to apply the funding to continue raising starting teacher salaries or to provide salary increases for veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel.

No eligible full-time classroom teacher will receive a base salary less than the minimum base salary established during the 2022-2023 school year.

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