Florida’s average starting salary for teachers is the highest in the Southeast and the 17th highest in the nation. The state has provided over $4 billion in salary increases since 2019, including a $200 million increase this year to a state fund designated for teacher pay raises. And yet recent headlines announced that “DeSantis vows to increase funding for teacher pay, but educator unions say it’s not enough,” “Florida educators and unions are unhappy with Gov. DeSantis’ $200M teacher pay increase,” and “Gov. Ron DeSantis touts teacher pay bump, but unions say it’s not enough.”

It’s never enough for the teachers unions. 

According to the National Education Association (NEA), the national average beginning teacher salary was $44,530 in the 2022-23 school year. Florida teachers earn around $48,286 when they start their careers, an almost $10,000 increase since Governor Ron DeSantis took office.

The NEA asserts that the national average teacher salary hovered around $69,500 in 2022-23. States with high costs of living, high taxes, and quick-to-strike unions raise the national average. Florida’s teacher salaries likely will never match those of the most expensive states to live in—California (average teacher salary of $95,160), New York ($92,696), and Massachusetts ($92,307)—so the state’s teachers union will be claiming teachers are “underpaid” in perpetuity.

The Florida Education Association (FEA) parrots talking points used by unions across the country to portray the state’s schools as underfunded and teachers as poorly paid. In a state budget statement, the FEA claimed the $200 million salary increase doesn’t “move the needle far enough or fast enough,” the $1.8 billion increase in overall K-12 funding in the state budget “doesn’t go far enough to support teachers,” and providing $180 million for mental health funding and $290 million for school safety “does not go far enough.” 

What funding amount would go far enough? Florida’s Teacher Salary Increase Allocation will provide $1.25 billion for salary raises in the upcoming fiscal year. The Florida Education Association (FEA) wants $2.5 billion annually for the next seven years and a $15,000 annual increase to average teacher salaries. 

To learn more about how funding and salary increases will never be enough for teachers unions, read about the recent demands from unions in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago

For more information about teachers unions, check out the IWF Education Freedom Center’s Teachers Union Resource Center.