One of the staples of the state budget is funding for education in Florida, and as the Florida Legislative Session continues in Tallahassee, some legislators are speaking out about teacher pay in the Sunshine State.
During a recent speech, State Representative Janet Cruz from Tampa had this to say about teacher salaries:
"Florida pays our teachers $10,000 a year less than the national average."
Our partners at PolitiFact Florida looked into Cruz's claim to see if it was accurate. PolitiFact reporter Allison Graves says that Cruz's claim rates MOSTLY TRUE on the Truth-O-Meter. Graves says, in general, the numbers back up the salary claim.
"When we started digging through the numbers, we found a statistic that says U.S. high school teachers, on average, earn about $58,000 per year," said Graves. "We also looked at data from the Florida Department of Education, where the data indicates that average teacher salaries in Florida are about $48,000 per year. That's a difference of $9,000, which is in the ballpark of Cruz's $10,000 difference claim."
Graves also points out that this is not necessarily a new situation. "We wanted to find out if this data was just for one or two years, or if it was something that's been happening for a much longer time," said Graves. "You have to go back about 47 years or so, back to 1969 and 1970, to see a time where Florida's teacher pay was anywhere close to the national average."
Graves notes that comparing data between any given state and a national average can be tricky. "One of the things that can make these claims murky is the cost of living between states," said Graves. "For example, Florida doesn't have a state income tax, so that affects the comparison with other states that do have state income tax."
Cruz is generally right about the notion that average teacher salaries are below the national average, leading to a MOSTLY TRUE rating on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter.
SOURCES: Florida teachers paid $10K less than national average?
- PolitiFact ruling
- Florida Channel, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz remarks, March 7, 2017
- U.S. News and World Report, "High School Teacher: Salary Details," 2017
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state," Selected years 1969-2016
- National Education Association, "Rankings and Estimates, 2015 and 2016"
- Palm Beach Post, "Bills: Pay Florida teachers $10,000 more a year," Jan. 28, 2013
- Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "Florida teachers union leaders: We want better pay for all, not a new legislative 'gimmick,'" Feb. 17, 2017
- PolitiFact Florida, "Gelber says Florida teacher salaries $5,000 lower than national average," April 19, 2010
- PolitiFact Florida, "State Rep. Marty Kiar says teachers in Georgia earn $6,000 more than Florida," Dec. 21, 2010
- PolitiFact Florida, "Rick Scott: Average Floridian pays $1,800 in state taxes, lowest in country," March 3, 2015
- PolitiFact North Carolina, "North Carolina teacher pay: $50,000 or not?" Feb. 3, 2017
- Interview Mark Pudlow, Florida Education Association spokesman, March 7, 2017
- Interview, Anders Croy, Democratic Office Florida House of Representatives spokesman, March 7, 2017
- Interview, Tim Tang, National Education Association researcher, March 7, 2017
- Interview, Celeste Fernandez Busser, National Education Association spokesman, March 7, 2017
- Interview, David Bills, University of Iowa education professor, March 7, 2017
- Interview, Cheryl Etters, Florida Department of Education spokeswoman, March 7, 2017