Ron DeSantis Announces Legislation to Protect Educators: ‘Teacher’s Bill of Rights’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday announced a legislative proposal designed to protect educators from teachers’ unions and increase teacher pay, touting a “Teacher’s Bill of Rights.”

Speaking in Jacksonville, Florida, DeSantis discussed some of the efforts that will be prioritized in the next legislative session, and that includes protecting educators.

“You talk about the students have rights, we talk a lot about parents having rights, and that’s very important, you know. But teachers really need to have rights in terms of them managing classrooms and being able to do what they need to do,” DeSantis said, explaining that his administration will work with the legislature to create a bill focusing on teacher empowerment, which he said is “almost like a Teacher’s Bill of Rights.”

“We want to make sure that teachers that are doing their job well, are protected, and are able to do that without fear of any reprisals,” he said, noting they will also be establishing a “new process for individuals to notify the state if a teacher’s rights have been violated and we will ensure that our Florida Department of Education can investigate those complaints very quickly.”

DeSantis also said they want to protect teachers who are forced to take disciplinary action when children are being disruptive. explaining that some “feel they will end up being the bad guy just by making sure that the kids are behaving.”

“They will have a presumption that they acted appropriately. We want to make sure that that everyone feels safe and everyone can learn and we don’t want disruptions to ruin the learning experience for everybody else,” DeSantis said, noting that some school districts may take issue with Florida legislating certain policies. However, DeSantis said the Sunshine State is a society based on the rule of law, and if the electorate does not like the policies enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor, they can make that change in the next election.

He explained:

There’s a lot of complaints about some of the things we did, like parental rights in education in some areas, not most areas, but in some, and the issue is a teacher is faced with either following state law or listening to a school board or school union or an administrator telling them to violate state law.

“If they follow state law, they’re protected,” he continued, adding that teachers should not be placed in a situation where they are being told to violate Florida’s laws via a school board or union boss. However, DeSantis said he suspects the former will not be as big of an issue — school boards attempting to bully good teachers — as Florida flipped several school boards to conservative in the last election cycle.

The governor said they will also advance proposals to ensure that teacher paychecks are protected.

If we do these reforms, automatic deduction for school union dues, that’s your choice. If you want to do it, you know, send money, that’s fine, but to have it automatically deducted when you sign an authorization form, they … can’t tell you how much is being deducted, you know, that’s not right,” he said, calling for more transparency.

The governor also called to reduce school board term limits from 12 years to eight.

Further, DeSantis is calling for another increase to teacher pay.

Per the governor’s website:

Since 2020, the Governor has secured more than $2 billion in funding for teacher pay, the largest pay increase for teachers in Florida history. This funding has allowed Florida to achieve an average starting teacher salary of $48,000 for the 2022-2023 school year, meeting and exceeding Florida’s goal of an average starting teacher salary of $47,500. The Governor is proposing an additional $200 million to continue raising teacher pay, bringing the total to $1 billion for teacher pay in his recommended budget for the next year.

This $200 million increase over the current year’s budget will be provided to school districts with maximum flexibility to best fit the school district’s needs. School districts will be able to apply the funding to continue raising starting teacher salaries or to provide salary increases for veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel.

“I’m excited about this,” the governor said. “No one would have thought just a few years ago that we’d be sitting here talking about having done over $3 billion dollars potentially in, in salary increases. And so it’s been, it’s been a long road. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I think ultimately it’s something that’s very, very important.”



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