Jacksonville FL — Monday, speaking from Jacksonville’s Duval Charter School at Baymeadows, Governor Ron DeSantis announced new legislation to empower and protect Florida’s educators while increasing teacher salaries to levels he described as unprecedented.
Through legislation that will require educational funding to be used specifically for teacher pay, the Governor’s proposing a $200 million dollar increase over the current year’s budget to raise salaries for veteran teachers, new teachers and/or other instructional personnel.
DeSantis described the funding as important for recruiting and retaining “good people in the classroom.”
In addition to increasing teacher pay, the Governor introduced a Teacher’s Bill of Rights to safeguard teachers from litigation and unions.
“We talk about students having rights and we talk about parents having rights, but teachers need to have rights in terms of classroom management,” he said. “These measures will ensure discipline. The teachers will not end up as the bad guys.”
DeSantis’ Bill of Rights includes allowing teachers to file both administrative and civil complaints if they’re requested by the district or school to violate Florida law. The proposal also protects teachers from litigation or professional sanctions if action is taken to restore “safety” or an “educational atmosphere” within the classroom. The proposal will also allow Florida’s Department of Education to grant the Inspector General the authority to initiate investigations for violations against students, parents, and teachers.
Also, according to DeSantis, there will be a new process for teachers to notify the state of any impending issues.
Describing cell phones as a “distraction,” DeSantis also tagged the idea that students leave their phones in a “cubby” before class and retrieve them at recess.
In addition, the proposed legislation includes “accountability” and “transparency” from public sector unions. If passed into law, teachers can choose whether or not to join a union without facing any repercussions; school union dues will no longer be automatically deducted or collected; school union officials will not be allowed to conduct union business at a taxpaying job; school unions must notify members of their membership costs every year; public employees joining a school union must sign and submit a form acknowledging Florida as a right-to-work state; union officials will not be able to earn more than “the highest paid people they represent”; and distribution of school union literature will not be allowed at work or school. Unions will also undergo annual audits and investigations if suspected of “fraud, waste and abuse.”
The proposed legislation also reduces term limits for school board members from 12 years to 8 years; requires school board elections to be partisan; and prohibits accessing slush funds through collective bargaining.
“I’m excited about this,” said DeSantis. “No one would have thought a few years ago that we would be talking about over $3 billion potentially in salary increased. It’s been a long road, a lot of hard work but very, very important. One teacher can make a huge difference in the lives of these students.”
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