They want the feds to standardize the way salaries are calculated cross country, and the stakes have never been higher.
Nationwide comparisons typically show Florida teacher salaries lower than at least 28 other states. Education Commissioner John Winn blames the dismal showing on the fact that different states calculate salaries differently, and he wants a nationwide standard.
John Winn said, "Because we like to rest on reliable data, and because we’re out there competing with 49 other states for teachers, we want to have good truth in advertising, if you will, about what the teacher pay in Florida really is."
If you add in retirement plans, bonuses, and lack of a state income tax, for example, the state says Florida’s average teacher salary suddenly goes as high as $52,000. That’s 6,000 higher than the national average.
The figure used by everyone else, 40,600, is 6,000 lower than the national average. David Worrell is a retired art teacher and union rep who says shuffling the numbers won’t change the fact that many people can’t afford a mortgage or even rent here.
David Worrell said, "That isn’t going to work because the bottom line is the dollars that the teacher takes home in their pocket. How are they going to be able to live in a state like Florida where the real estate market has skyrocketed?"
One number nobody disputes is the 32,000 new teachers Florida needs in the next couple of months to comply with class size requirements.
Recruiting them is going to be one of the state’s toughest challenges no matter whose numbers you use. State education officials say it’s only fair to compare teacher salaries using the same criteria in each state, like base pay and experience level.
The U.S. Department of Education agrees and says it looks forward to working with Florida on this issue.