Florida voters want better pay for teachers

New statewide poll shows strong and growing support for higher teacher pay

TALLAHASSEE — A new poll commissioned by the state’s largest teacher union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), found continued and growing support for higher pay for teachers and other education professionals.

The poll of 750 registered voters was conducted by Clearview Research using live operator callers. It was balanced across variables including party registration, age, race/ethnicity, gender and geography to ensure a representative sample yielding a general response set margin of error of + 5.64 at the 95% confidence level.

The poll found that an astonishing 92% of respondents agreed with the statement, “We need to pay our teachers more so Florida can have stronger and better schools,” and 88% agreed that “we should raise the salaries of experienced teachers and not just the brand-new ones.” Importantly, both questions have shown an increase over a similar poll taken at the same time last year – with a very high 20-point jump in the “strongly agree” response set of the general pay increase question. Additionally, more than four in five (81%) respondents agreed, “We need to give qualified, experienced teachers the opportunity to enter into long term contracts so we can ensure that the best teachers stay in our schools and don’t go seek jobs elsewhere.”

FEA President Andrew Spar noted, “Voters know it takes teachers and staff to provide every child with the education they deserve, regardless of race, background, ZIP code or ability. With more than 4,000 teacher vacancies and 5,000 support staff vacancies across our state today, the poll indicates that Florida voters want lawmakers to take swift action to increase pay and enact other measures that will keep teachers and staff in our schools – rather than having them seek employment elsewhere. Voters clearly want strong public schools.”

The poll also found that recent hostilities at school board meetings and on school campuses are having a negative impact on Florida’s public schools. Additionally, the effects of the pandemic on schools continue to be a major concern for voters, with a 26-point drop in how the general public feels about how schools are handling education during the pandemic. It is vital to note that most of this drop comes from those who do not have children in Florida’s public schools.

“The perception of how the pandemic is impacting schools simply does not match the reality,” stated Clearview President Steve Vancore. “We see a consistent near 20-point gap between the viewpoints of parents who have children in public schools and those who do not. Parents with children in school are much more satisfied than those who do not have kids in school, strongly suggesting that this perception is driven by the persistent attacks on the education system by some politicians and radical groups.”

On other matters tested in the poll:

  • 93% agreed, “We need to teach our children both the good and bad from history and current events to prepare them to be well-informed and independent thinkers, even if it makes some people feel uncomfortable.”
  • 90% agreed, “We cannot let a small group of politically motivated people divide parents and teachers from working together to help students.”
  • 75% felt it was not a good idea to allow parents to sue schools district because they think the school is teaching sensitive subjects such as the history of racism or the Holocaust.
  • 73% agreed, “The Florida Legislature making decisions about what can be taught in public schools without local input is an overreach of the state government.

In conclusion President Spar stated, “This poll clearly indicates that parents want policymakers to focus on helping schools educate all kids in light of the pandemic. Any policy that does not support all of Florida’s children by addressing their academic needs and confronting the massive teacher and staff shortages is denying our children the education they deserve. Parents and voters have made it clear: Let’s take action on what really matters rather than allow political rancor to permeate our schools.”

A PDF of the executive summary of poll results can be found here.


CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org, (850) 201-3223

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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