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State Education Board Identifies Crucial Teacher Shortages, Floats Idea Of Differentiated Pay

A physics teacher writes on his chalkboard in a classroom.
Photo by Tra Nguyen

Florida is facing a teacher shortage that stakeholders say is a growing problem. State Department of Education data for this school year shows nearly 3,300 teacher vacancies across the state.

The State Education Board has published its list showing public schools’ critical teacher shortages in various subjects. English and reading, math and science, and technical education all make the list. And, shortages of teachers in English for speakers of other languages, and exceptional student education are a concern.

Escambia County Superintendent Malcolm Thomas spoke to the board about a problem he says is felt in every Florida school district.

“There’s just not enough teachers on the bench. And the bench we have is not deep enough to meet our needs,” Thomas said. “Our colleges of education, their enrollment continues to decrease, where our demand for teachers because of retirement and attrition is increasing.”

Andy Tuck, The State Board’s vice chair, says differentiated pay might be one way to lure teachers for subjects with the greatest need. Board Chair Marva Johnson said DOE’s new leadership may entertain the idea.

“I think that’s a fair ask as well. I know during the Education Transition Team meetings, one of the topics that received a great deal of input and debate was teacher compensation,” Johnson said. “So, it may be that as we enter our new administrative leaders with our new commissioner, there’s an opportunity for us to take another look at those numbers and make sure that our resources and priorities are aligned with the leadership’s objectives.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first with Commissioner Richard Corcoran, former Republican House Speaker, at the helm.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.