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Florida Teachers Fleeing the Profession

It appears that teachers in Brevard County in central Florida are leaving the profession in greater numbers. According to Florida Today, which interviewed some of the teachers voluntarily exiting, factors impelling the teachers to leave include the lack of respect from students and administrators, low pay, health problems, and the long hours necessary to prepare for classes.

Voluntarily, 368 teachers resigned from the Brevard Public Schools (BPS) district in 2015; 1,196 teachers have resigned in the last six years, while 839 retired. The complete staff of BPS includes roughly 4,800 teachers.

Michelle Irwin, director of community relations for BPS, was unconcerned, saying, “We are not seeing there is a huge spike of people leaving the profession suddenly.”

Brevard Federation of Teachers President Richard Smith told Florida Today:

They’re leaving in droves, but it’s not just that they’re leaving Brevard, they are leaving the profession period. It is no longer what it used to be. I’ve got 39 years of experience and I’ve never seen a period of time like these past seven or eight years where this amount of work has been dropped on teachers’ laps.

Seminole County Public Schools, comprised of roughly the same amount of teachers, lost 306 teachers this year.

A 2014 study found that Florida teachers were exiting the classroom at a faster rate than the national average. In the autumn of 2014, over 20 teachers left the Osceola County School District because of the stresses from implementing Common Core standardized testing.

Of the 82 schools in BPS, 25 displayed instructional cultural index scores at or above the national top quartile average, and BPS scored higher than the national average.

The pay in BPS suffers by comparison to nearby counties; a teacher in BPS can make as much as $58,495, but in Seminole County, a teacher can earn up to $69,500, and in Orange County, the top pay rate is at $70,750. Irwin protested, “As far as pay is concerned, we look at the total compensation package (salary plus benefits) and BPS continues to be one of the top five districts across Central Florida.”

Another problem is the requirement that teachers teach six periods out of seven, rather than five, as in prior years, leaving teachers less time to prepare for classes.

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