DUNEDIN, Florida -- Governor Rick Scott proposed a $2,500 pay increase for all teachers. After all the cuts teachers have been through, who would oppose that idea? It turns out legislators are against it; they want the teacher salary increase tied to performance and want it to include all school employees.
"I've never seen morale as bad as it is. There's a feeling our voices are not being heard, lack of planning time, time to collaborate," said Dunedin High School teacher Brandt Robinson.
Now that legislators have apparently killed the governor's plan to give teachers a pay increase, it just adds to the frustration.
Robinson said, "It's very difficult for me to see my profession devalued because the one group never asked for their input collaboration was the experts in the field."
Legislators agreed with the governor's budget of spending $480 million on salary increases, but disagreed on how to spend it. Legislators say instead of pay raises across the board, state leaders should support performance based raises based on an evaluation system teachers say is flawed.
Robinson says, "The underlying compromise is built on the perception it would be an adequate evaluation system. It is more proof they are kicking the cab down the road further."
Robinson has seen colleagues leaving the classroom for financial reasons. He is worried how the decision will impact teacher recruitment. He said, "I'm worried about the message it sends people in college, whether they should follow their passion of teaching, or possibly worry if they will be able to support their family in five or six years."
During a press conference at Tampa International Airport, Governor Scott told reporters, "I think everyone should call state representatives and senators, let them know how important this is."
Governor Scott said Florida's students have made great gains and teachers should be rewarded. He said, "We need a great education system. We need to treat out teachers like we love them. They are doing so well. This $2,500 pay raise across the board is the right thing for our teachers, the right thing for our students."
There are two weeks left in the session, and it appears the house and senate and the governor are standing firm on this one. We tried reaching out to Bradenton's senator, Bill Galvano, the Senate Education Appropriations chairman, along with several other members, including Senator John Legg and Senator Nancy Detert. No one was available for comment.