Let’s Be Honest about the Teacher’s Pay Raise

Grant Miller, Publisher

It was crystal clear that #362, which garnered 71% of the vote this past November, was a pay raise for Miami Dade Public School Teachers and increased security measures. It was made clear that this only applied to those teachers and support staff that work directly for Miami Dade Public Schools and not individuals who work at private, parochial or charter industry schools. Anyone suggesting otherwise is being disingenuous.

As School Board member Rojas pointed out last week, “Even if we wanted to (which the Board did not) the School Board can’t share this money because we have no oversight over charter schools.” In other words the school board would have no idea where the money would go.  The School Board would be unable to find out if taxpayer dollars were being spent on teacher pay increases or simply adding to the profit margins of the for profit management companies that operate the majority of our charter schools.

The referendum for Miami Dade County Public School Teachers pay raise was crafted out in the open, discussed at numerous televised School Board Meetings, nuances debated vigorously and work shopped at public forums with citizen input over the course of one year.  At certain points in the year long different ideas were floated by Superintendent Carvalho, such as funding pilot programs, debated and ultimately rejected. It was discussed publicly if these taxpayer funds would be shared with charter schools and that notion was also shot down.  The County Commissioners who reviewed and approved the ballot language, were also clear on where these taxpayer dollars were to be spent if the referendum was passed.

The very powerful Charter School business industry did not begin grumbling about sharing #362 taxpayer funds until it became evident that the referendum would be successful.  While Miami Dade Public school teachers and United Teachers of Dade, their union, campaigned for months to ensure the passage of #362, the largest for profit charter school management company in Florida attempted to dampen voter support among parent in an email they distributed on November 2nd just before election day.

Voters in Miami Dade have shown a willingness to support increased taxes to support Jackson Memorial Hospital, School Building Bonds, to combat sea level rise and now Public School Teacher Pay Raises.  What infuriates voters and undermines public trust in local government is when voters realize they have been part of a “bait and switch” scheme.  County voters are still upset that increased taxes collected with the promise of expanded Metrorail and mass transit efforts were instead used for operational costs and debt service.  A decade later and no new rail lines to the south, north or west are even being planned.

The for profit charter school entities that are now stirring the pot chose not to be involved in this public discussion during the public debate period, planning or campaign to pass this referendum.  They went so far as to tell parents of their students in writing that #362 did not include their schools.  Any efforts to siphon off these funds after they have already been allocated would be a dis-service to county voters and like the public transit funds, another sad “bait and switch” scheme by politicians. The school board Chair must ensure that the board stays the course.

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44 Comments on "Let’s Be Honest about the Teacher’s Pay Raise"

  1. This referendum money is NOT a raise and will only last for four years unless renewed. Let’s be clear, teachers have not received a raise!

    • Thank You Margie! IT IS NOT AN OFFICIAL RAISE and will ONLY last for 4 YEARS! The school board has not offered us money! The tax payers are paying for it TEMPORARILY!
      WE need the school board to handle the tax payers money correctly for all their “projects” and implement a permanent well needed and deserved raise for teachers!

  2. Silvana Londono | February 12, 2019 at 5:13 pm | Reply

    i agree 100%. the pay raise should be for public school teachers only. we cannot leave children with less resources to continue to be neglected by not having the very best teachers. and we cannot afford to have our very best teachers not be properly compensated for their efforts. if you can afford private school, great. i’m happy for you. but do not ask us to sacrifice ours to support yours. if our public schools were properly funded, there would be no need for private schools but that would be horrible for business, wouldn’t it? its just like the highway express lanes. lanes were taken from us to benefit those that can pay. pretty soon we will start to feel the effects of the net-neutrality reversal. people need to think a little less about what benefits them and start thinking about what benefits us all. after all, we are all ONE society.

  3. Great article you are so right

    • It sucks the majority of voters didn’t read the ballot language carefully. Nowhere did the ballot language say that none of the funding would go to charter schools. Charter schools are privately managed but they are publicly funded with taxpayers money. Maybe if voters had read the amendments more carefully instead of just voting yes to all of them they wouldn’t have been conned by politicians who tell them what they want to hear instead of telling them the truth.

      • I concur.. I do not understand how or why Miami-Dade and/or MDCPS get it wrong or half ass right sometimes.. Broward county sought and passed the same type or similar type of bill for their teachers w clearly stated language.. NO MONIES SHALL BE AFFORDED TO CHARTER SCHOOLS.. why couldn’t MDCPS been that clear and INCLUDED that same type of language?? And not leaving the door open for these foolish law suits coming to court room in the very near future. UTD should have made sure #362 was intended ONLY for MDCPS teachers teaching in MDCPS schools.

  4. michelle marrero williams | February 12, 2019 at 5:44 pm | Reply

    Thank you for writing this and thank you for HONEST reporting!! Teacher’s raises are very FEW and far between. This “historic” raise is not even close to a decent one to say the least! 1% I received a $1.54 increase in my daily rate. It’s pathetic to say the least. So, as for the Charters….NO WAY! Ask your big business to give you raises!

  5. Edward A Escoabr | February 12, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Reply

    I agree 100000000% that I voted to an increase in taxes to give ONLY MDCPS teachers a raise. Had I been made aware that funds would be given to unaccountable and insofar unproven charter schools who pick and choose who they want to educate, I wouldn’t have voted for it. It would make a total mockery of democracy should any governing body force us to give our hard earned money to dissimilar entities

  6. Horace G. Feliu | February 12, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Reply

    Any and all tax tax dollars to charter schools, or any other entity, which uses public funds, should be subject to yearly audits and be made public. This should be one of the main objectives of our new Governor DeSantis, who has so far, demonstrated the importance of accountability,

  7. Charter school students are miami Dade public school students so your logic is incorrect. If these charter schools did not exist then these students would just ad to the already overcrowded public schools. Should the teachers who teach these PUBLIC SCHOOL students be treated different?? How can you in good conscience really believe that these teachers are not eligible for the raises.

    • They are not eligible for the raise because these schools are not public schools. Charter schools don’t charge tuition but they require parents to pay money or time. If the parents choose charter fine, but it they are not charter schools. The businesses they work for can give them a raise, as other companies compensate their employees.

    • Easy; most teacher that left the system to teach in charter schools did so because charter schools were paying more money..period. So why look to mdcps now for $$? Charter schools teachers should not benefit from #362 monies. I do not remember any charter school attempting to fund or give raises to any mdcps teachers/schools..

  8. I absolutely aggree with you!

  9. Michael Rosenberg | February 12, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Reply

    I 100% agreed with Grant Miller until I read the actual words of the referendum.

    Here is the referendum language. In hindsight, IS IT TOTALLY CLEAR?

    “Referendum to Approve Ad Valorem Levy for Teachers, Instructional Personnel, School Safety and Security.

    Shall the School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida, levy 0.75 mills of ad valorem taxes for operational funds (1) to improve compensation for high quality teachers and instructional personnel, and (2) to increase school safety and security personnel with oversight by a Citizen Advisory Committee, beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2023?”

    I wish the number one reason had stated improve compensation for high quality ” Miami Dade County School” teachers to make certain it was clear. It only says “teachers” and that is where charter schools might make a case. Of course the intention was for Miami Dade County public school teachers, but I would see where a charter school parent might say it wasn’t clear.

    I agree with the conclusions of Mr. Miller, but I believe the referendum should have eliminated ALL doubt, and I’m not sure it does.

  10. I also voted for the referendum and never would have voted if charter schools or other private schools were included in the mix. These other types of schools are not accountable to taxpayers so why should they get anything?

    I am sick and tired of this privatization garbage and the attendant propaganda about how much it would help children because … . (I am not a teacher and in no way remotely connected to Dade County Public Schools.)

  11. SHAWNA STEARNS | February 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm | Reply

    This year we got a 1% raise and a 5% supplement which was not retroactive so it was half a year, hence 2 1/2%. A supplement is not a raise. The referendum money is not a raise. Amounts will also be negotiated annually by our worthless union.

  12. Taxpayers should have known better than to give away more money to the School Board who always misuses it. When will taxpayers ever learn from their mistakes?

    • The money has already been allocated. Not a cent was left on the table. Charters are simply trying to create the illusion that the public wants this to ask the Governor interfere, which will also yield no results. Just a bunch of faux rage.

  13. It’s a shame that the parochial school system that provides by far the best education, fully supported by the parents that want CHOICE, does not benefit from any of these bonuses, etc. Consider also, it’s the parents of these same kids that are the major taxpayers that support the public system far more than the recipients of this free education. We have supported  a dual system of education since 1972 & still do while thousands (non-property owners) get a free ride. Some things in life are not fair. 
    Consider in 1980, would you want your son to go to Christopher Columbus or Southridge or your daughter to Lourdes Academy versus Southridge ?
    It was not a hard decision then & would be even easier now.

    • I strongly disagree that parochial schools provide the best education. In any event, your comments don’t address any of the issues raised in this article.

  14. Thank you Grant for setting the record straight. Public monies are for the public good. In this case, the public stated loud and clear. They voted for increase to public school teachers.

    Charter Schools already take monies from public coffers for their own private gain.

  15. Agreed.

  16. Lawrence Arrington | February 13, 2019 at 6:27 am | Reply

    Grant, you nailed it. I couldn’t agree more.

  17. This is a great win for public school teachers. Yes, stay the course!

  18. The ever expanding government of school board’s doing what they’re best at waste, deceit and endless bureaucracy. Next vote should be reduction pay of all administration board staff reverted to actual teachers pay and to appropriations originally intended.

  19. Could not agree more. Thank you for writing about this issue.

  20. If you are a private school, you should have more than enough money to cover your debts. Many families struggle to keep their children in these schools after they have lost either one or both jobs. With fees being in the teen thousands and up, how dare these charlatans ask for the monies that tax payers have allocated for their children’s education. If Carvalho decides to aid these schools then they should have to open up their finances to the public. I’m sorry but I don’t want to take a teacher’s pay raise to give to a Director’s lifestyle. I am doing my best to keep this clean but it is difficult. I agree with you and maybe the rest of the governing figures should try to get on board. They should remember that their services is for the people not the conglomerate greed of the private sector. By the way my sister is a teacher.

  21. Mr. Miller, your article is is valid in the respect of the Charter Schools trying to get a hand in the funds, however please do not state that this money is a raise. It is not a raise. We were given a 1% raise by MDCPS as they hid behind the referendum money as a excuse to not give teachers a well deserved substantial raise.

  22. Debbie Zugasti | February 13, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Reply

    Thank you for informing the community of the #362 referendum. It took months to provide the proper information to the public. Also, please note the UTD and its PAYING members helped to pay for advertising, volunteered many hours on election day and days/weeks prior to Nov 6 by calling citizens of our community to support this plan. It takes money, and people power to convince people to raise any kind of funding. I thank the community for sending a clear message to Miami-Dade County residents that this temporary supplement (not official raise by contract)was approved with impressive support.

  23. Antoinette B. Fischer | February 14, 2019 at 9:38 am | Reply

    I have heard for years that the Miami Dade County public school system is extremely top heavy with regard to the ridiculous number of Administrators relative to teachers. This is something that should be addressed when addressing the need for raises for our Public School teachers who are on the front lines while fat cats sit in offices and collect fat salaries. Also, we have heard for years through the media that Tallahassee has allocated more support to Charter Schools then to Public Schools. Let’s not forget that housing has also become unaffordable for public school teachers. Clearly, the majority of the voters saw the need to do something for our Public School teachers.

  24. Antoinette B. Fischer | February 15, 2019 at 4:07 am | Reply

    Part 2 of my comments:
    “The Other Side of the Coin”
    Taxpayers in this County have been aware for years that our State government has not channeled a fair amount of funds back to our public schools, which would be commensurate with revenue which flows from our County to Tallahassee. Therefore, it is very unfair that Miami-Dade taxpayers have to take on an additional financial burden to make up for funds that the State is supposed to provide. There are childless senior citizens who have been paying to support our public schools, and now have to pay more. Many are on fixed incomes and just barely getting by. I have heard some complain that they shouldn’t have to carry the financial burden of educating everyone’s children. Does anyone think it is fair that a person with 0 children has to pay at the same rate as a person or a couple with a large number of children?
    Also, is it fair that people who pay to send their children to private schools also have to pay to support the public school system? The truthful answer is no!
    As for the current state of affairs, our County leaders and our district State Representatives should be working to make sure that this district gets a fair amount of funds back from the State for our County. We should be getting a fair amount of lottery money back. The concept of fairness has been trashed by our government. The pay increase that the voters are giving teachers is a temporary bandaid and should not become a means of avoiding the big picture. I remember reading a letter from a teacher who stated that when home values go down, the amount of money going to the new teacher “raises” will also go down. Very true.

    • Edward A Escobar | February 18, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Reply

      Ms. Fischer,

      Having 0 kids shouldn’t relieve you of taxation for public schools or any other facet of broad, baseline homeowner taxation that provides valuable services to the community. That same senior citizen has not contributed as much to our sales tax stream because they don’t need to buy as many goods (food, clothing, household products, gas, etc). By the same token are likely using more of our emergency services (911, fire rescue), roads or public transportation (because it’s free to seniors), hospitals, and social insurance (medicare/medicaid or both) to keep themselves in as good of health as possible because they have nobody to look after them at their old age. You can always find an anecdotal case as examples to carve out exemptions, I simply believe that’s harmful to our society.

      As to the wealthy parents who send their kids to private schools, they do it not for the education but for the social circles private schools create. They should not be relieved of property taxes simply because they want their kids to grow up thinking they’re better than public school educated human beings.

    • On the question of fairness, we all need to share the burden of educating the public. We benefit from others education as much as our own. And even those without children were once upon a time children themselves.

  25. As a board member of a Miami-Dade managed charter school (we pay the district 10% of our revenue for that title) for kids and young adults on the severe side of the Autism spectrum, I could not disagree with you more! The vote was to pay teachers more and pay for increased security for Public funded education. Charter schools are public funded schools! How dare you stand behind security walls with your kids at a $40,000 plus per year private school and deny our 263 students with Autism and their 85 teachers increased pay and security. I can tell you our board has already discussed this and I can assure you that all the money dedicated to teachers is going to teachers and as far as that evil word “profit” we are a non-profit with an unpaid board and those that do operate schools for profit do so by delivering a better product for less money, the only way that profit takes place. Your article is a slap in the face of every poor kid and their family who cannot afford a fancy private school and are tired of their failing home school. You are welcome to come by our campus anytime to see what we are doing as a Charter school for these kids and young adults who no one else wanted.

    • Christopher Powell | February 18, 2019 at 9:09 pm | Reply

      It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do things at your school. Your school is not a public school. It is privately operated. The referendum money is for public school teachers ONLY. Your school’s board should find their own way to give teachers a raise.
      I did NOT vote for pay raises for ANY charter schools.

    • You seem to be making a good point re charter schools being public schools but I don’t understand why you’re bringing expensive private schools into the discussion.

  26. Antoinette B. Fischer | February 19, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Reply

    The discussion continues with my friends who are childless, as am I, and a legal question has come up. Why is it that the school board tax is not in compliance with all other exemptions that other property taxes are subject to? Also, another person said that she went to school in another state and so did not get any benefit at all. I was born and raised here and my parents sent me to parochial schools for 10 years, public for 2. It was a big financial sacrifice for them with 6 children.We all got some years of public school and some private. We
    were not rich, and everything did not cost a fortune in those days. They thought it was better. I still think it is unfair that people who pay for private school for their kids also have to pay for public. They should mot be forced to support more than one system at a time. As for charter schools, they have been favored monetarily by the State over public schools and are not subject to the same transparency and accountability as public schools, yet receive public funds. This is wrong. Not only that, but charter schools place a huge load of increased traffic on already overburdened roads because they don’t use buses.There should be neighborhood impact studies done before a new charter school is approved and they should be required to use buses in order that neighborhood traffic congestion be alleviated. Parents should not be sitting in cars, bumper to bumper, for hours every day, clogging up our roads. This is an undue burden on the surrounding neighborhood. I used to ride bicycle or take school bus back in the day. Dad would drop us off only occasionally if it fit in with his work day. It was our responsibility to find a way to get to school. If we got a ride,that was good luck!

  27. OK, a big part of this problem lies with the news media not reporting adequately on ALL the items people just voted on.
    Nowhere did I see any reporting on the fact that the Fla, legislature took money away from Dade County Schools at the State level and gave it to charter schools for THEIR infrastructure costs AFTER we passed an ADDITIONAL bond issue to fix our schools.
    What will stop the reps from the 66 other counties from taking more money away from us THIS year as well? We don’t have enough representatives to overrule those decisions. We are ALREADY paying TWICE for our public school system because of Tallahassee and outside of a public petition process to put something in our state constitution, I don’t see how this is going to stop. So…keep your eyes peeled to see what the state does to our efforts.
    And, this is just the tip of the iceberg….Wait til you see WHAT ELSE you voted FOR that is coming back to bite us all in the ass. There were a slew of “stuff” put into bills that should have made a reasonable person vote against them, but the ACTUAL legislation had to be read to decipher much of this. I don’t blame Jonh Q. Voter, they have limited time to do such research, but the news media is doing us a disservice by only parroting what legislators, lobbyists, or another news source is telling them.

  28. Antoinette B. Fischer | February 20, 2019 at 7:16 am | Reply

    Best thing to do when in doubt is to vote no. That ballot was way overloaded with too much piggy backing of items,one atop another. I had to spend lots of time studying, thinking and dicussing the items. It should be illegal for unrelated issues to be bundled together for one vote. We cannot count on the media to guide us. Some are biased. We have to use our own brains!

  29. Taxpayingsenior | February 20, 2019 at 11:52 am | Reply

    Perhaps Mr. Escobar should be reminded that Florida has the most public open records laws in the country. that includes property search and property taxes. Some have not paid their taxes for the past 3 years but have no problem throwing stones at others, including the seniors that continue to pay their fair share that “provides valuable services to the community”.

  30. Antoinette B. Fischer | February 20, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Reply

    Escobar, Senior citizens are great contributers in many ways, throughout their lives. I,and many others are citizen volunteers who work for the betterment of the community and do all they can to support their children and grandchildren.
    Maybe you didn’t learn respect for your elders. I find your criticism of seniors to be disparaging,groundless,and despicable. I, and every one I know in my age group is an active contributer in every way, including support of immigrants who need our assistance.
    As for private school, maybe on your country parents send their children to private schools for social climbing reasons, here they send them for other reasons. In many cases, they are looking for the best educational fit to fill the needs of their children.

  31. Antoinette B. Fischer | February 21, 2019 at 11:28 am | Reply

    Go back to Candy Lane’s comments and it is not good for the County. County has opened itself to lawsuits because of the lack of clarity on the ballot language. Shame on the highly paid County Atty.! Don’t they have sn atty.review the verbiage?

  32. I believe the wording was left ambiguous on purpose. Miami Dade waited for Broward’s vote before promoting it here. And Broward specified that the bond issue was only for the pubic schools. They could’ve copied Broward’s verbiage and put it on our ballot with no problem, but….??? It just seemed too obvious to me and I remember wondering about why that wording was left off when I was reading our legislation initially.

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