DeSantis Slams

DeSantis Slams "Left-Wing" Unions, Pledges Billions to Address Florida's Teacher Pay Crisis

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
June 10, 2024

HIALEAH, FL—As Florida languishes at the near worst-in-the-nation spot for teacher pay, Governor Ron DeSantis slams teacher unions while taking action—announcing Monday that he will approve $1.25 billion in the state budget toward teacher salary increases.

"This is an increase of close to a quarter of a billion dollars in funding over the previous years...and that brings our total investment in teacher pay increases to $4.6 billion since 2020," DeSantis said at a Hialeah press conference Monday morning.

He lauded Florida's recent ranking as number one in the nation for education—due to low in-state tuition and college readiness— though notably failed to mention the National Education Association's May finding that Florida ranks 50th for average teacher pay nationwide.

While DeSantis pointed out that Florida teacher salaries have increased from around $39,000 to around $48,000 in five years, spiked inflation has led teachers to actually be making 5% less than they did ten years ago, the report found.

The billion-dollar budget item, meanwhile, which has yet to be signed before its July 1st effective date, stresses that the money can only go toward teacher pay. Why? DeSantis worries teacher unions are not properly distributing funds toward teachers, pointing out that the president of the state's largest union, the Florida Education Association, makes nearly $400,000.

"I want [the money] to go to teachers, I don't want it going to the teacher unions," DeSantis said. He referenced last year's union bill which removed automatic deductions from members' paychecks. This means members now have to manually send a check instead of having their dues automatically taken out, a process critics have said is designed to wipe out unions altogether.

Since then, the FEA has sued DeSantis for the law—accusing him of "political retribution" and "union-busting."

"[That bill] ushered in a new era of accountability for unions...We're not going to facilitate those deductions," he said. "It's a recognition that these school unions have become extra partisan [and try to] impose left-wing ideology."

Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz agreed, tackling another angle of what he sees as the dangers of certain school unions: "They're focusing their energy on woke ideology, on protecting pornographic materials," Diaz said, referencing last year's controversial book ban aimed at removing "pornographic" readings from school shelves.

After several non-parents objected to certain school books—on both the left and the right—DeSantis this year signed a law cracking down on who can complain about school books.

Diaz, a former high school teacher, is no stranger to inappropriate educational complaints: when he was a state Senator, former students of his accused him of being a "pervert" and an "inappropriate teacher", alleging that the education official made comments to students about drugs and clubbing.

Diaz whole-heartedly denied the allegations, sending a cease-and-desist letter to one radio station for pushing out the students' message—which he called "slanderous".

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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