Teachers Are Asking For Too Much


Guest Columnist  

  Last year, while the Teacher contract really wasn’t up for dispute, I went to bat for the Teachers of Broward County Schools. 

 What I posted here a year ago wound up not only as a published Letter To The Editor in the Sun-Sentinel, but likewise as an Editorial produced by the Sentinel Editorial Board as well after their investigation of the information I exposed.

Nice to know that I was ahead of the pack even then. 

This year I say NO.

Don’t be bamboozled by the hype that Broward Teachers are getting no raise this year, or the School Board is offering Zero percent.  Teachers have already received a 3 percent raise as of July 1st.

From the BTU Negotiation news posted July 8th:  “BTU-EP Chief Negotiator Dane Ramson said the requested information (School Board finances) was to help the union’s team identify possible “pots of money during such difficult economic times. The funds could be utilized for the salary increases of instructional staff.”

“District negotiators flatly rejected the union’s salary increase proposal above the negotiated step movement that took place effective July 1, 2008.”

Don’t swallow the mis-information that Teachers are underpaid.  They aren’t.  Give that a moment to sink in and then read on…

Let me debunk some common myths.

Teachers need to be paid like professionals.  Broward Teachers start at $38,500 while most professionals start at $24,000.  Broward Teachers top out at $72,000 while most professionals top out at $55,000. And with Master’s, PHDs and other certifications, there are many Teachers in Broward making upwards of $92,000.  Hardly slave wages.

Teachers don’t get paid vacations.  Most professionals get two weeks off each year for the salaries they earn. Teachers get thirteen weeks.  Two weeks for winter break, one week for spring break and ten weeks for summer break.  Most professionals get five sick days each year, use them or lose them by December 31st. Teachers not only get ten sick days per year, but they can accumulate unused leave year to year.

Teachers don’t get paid holidays.  Yes they do.  While not defined as holidays in their contact, holidays are defined as days off through school closing. Even though Teachers don’t work on Columbus Day, they still get paid for the day as though it was a regular work day.  Ditto with New Year’s Day.  July 4th, too.  And just how many professionals are required to work on those days for no extra pay?

Teachers work long hours.  Yes they do.  So do most professionals.  60 and 70 hour weeks with weekends are not uncommon in either the professional or teaching world.

As I mentioned, teachers have already received a 3 percent raise as of July 1, negotiated LAST YEAR. 

 But that’s not enough for some, despite the fact that the voters have mandated reductions in cost of government and lower taxes. 

 TEACHERS HAVE GOTTEN THEIR RAISES THIS YEAR DESPITE THE MANDATE, but the union wants more.  Everybody else is suffering in the current economy.  Miami Dade is getting no raise as of this writing, but the BTU wants more.

The issue last year and the year before as a School Board Member was not one of percentages, but of equitable distribtuion.  The Union distribution of raises was and still is a JOKE.  It’s called a step system and MUST be dismantled at all costs. 

 The joke is that Teachers with less than 18 years get next to nothing, while Teachers with 18 years or more get 10, 17 and even 20 percent raises.  And that’s exactly the case with this year’s raises.  Just go to btuonline.com and take a look at the contract salary schedule.  $50, $75, $100 raises.  Not per week.  Per year.  Enough for a tank of gas.  Maybe.

That changed in 2006 with my leadership and again in 2007.  In 2006, Teachers received 6.3 percent ACROSS THE BOARD, not distributed according to the step scale.  Every teacher received a $2,050 raise and in 2007, that raise was $1,725.

The bottom line here is that while Teachers are feeling the pain with rising prices as are the rest of us, they’ve already gotten something that most of us haven’t. Demanding more is just plain piggy.

Me?  Like Will Rogers; “I’m not a member of any organized party.  I’m a Democrat.”

 (Marty Rubinstein is a former Broward County School Board member.  See more of his views on martyrubinstein.com)

15 Responses to “Teachers Are Asking For Too Much”

  1. Get a Real Job says:

    Is’nt Marty a computer tech guy at Brandsmart or something?

    And I love how he claims that most “professionals” top out at $55k. Maybe that’s what the head geek at Brandsmart tops out at, but $55k is not what most professionals top out at.

    Lawyers in Florida AVERAGE $115k.

    Doctors in Florida AVERAGE close to $200k.

    Accountants in Florida AVERAGE in the six figures.

    Teachers in Florida AVERAGE at under $55k, even though many have advanced degrees too.

    Hey Marty, go talk teletubbies or something else stupid again. Or better yet, tell me your work hours. The disk drive on my computer needs an overhaul.

  2. Marty Rubinstein says:

    And just what illicit weed have you been smoking recently? Most lawyers make much less than $115k. Most accountants do not earn six figures although how you differentiate the $115k from “six figures” is beyond me.

    If you think only Doctors, Lawyers and Accountants are the only professionals then it’s time for you to go back to school for career day.

    Bus drivers, office workers, warehouse workers, research assistants, nurses, airline employees (minus pilots of course) airport employees, rental agents, auto mechanics and even my former vocation, Television Broadcast and design Engineers. Computer geeks, too, and probably a thousand more professions that I haven’t listed here.

    These are the professionals who do the real work in the county, folks who get less than teachers and outnumber them by upwards of a thousand to one. Your ignorance of what real professionals are astounds even me. But then again, taking an article about truth and turning it into something as scurrilous as a personal attack does not.

    As for what I do, I actually don’t. Haven’t been to BrandsMart in the last six years except to buy something. And I was earning more than $55K back then. The School Board became my sole employer as I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis and no longer able to work full time. Today I am completely disabled and happily retired. Almost. I can do what I want, when I want, and when you get to the same status in life, let me know. I’ll send you a congratulations card.

    And yes, I know what’s wrong with your hard drive. Stop downloading everything in sight, run an anti-virus/anti-spyware program and then run a disk defragment program and you’ll be fine. And get to school for the next career day.

  3. Your old district says: says:

    Now I know why you lost. Your attacking teachers? Jeeez!

    What next? Cops should stop whining about “risking” their lives?

    Fireman only have to work 4 days a week? Now I know what’s wrong with the local Dems. Nice Republican talking points!

  4. S. Only says:

    If you want to discuss “professional” pay, you need to look at EDUCATION levels, i.e. comparative college degrees. The bus drivers, mechanics, office and warehouse workers, etc. ARE hard working and valued individuals but their salaries should be compared with the paraprofessionl’s salaries in the schools, not teacher’s salaries. Nurses with 5,6,7 years of education get much more than teachers and are able to work extra shifts. Most teachers would GLADLY work in the summer and get paid, rather than be off with no pay. And, incidently, the most experienced and veteran teachers are NOT getting any raise at all since they have been at the LAST step for many years. Politicians at every level give lip service to the importance of teachers and education, but until they put “money where their mouth is”, our country will continue to attract the least able and least competitive people to this honored profession.

  5. Oops!!! says:

    Nice comment Rubinstein, BUT, you forgot to tell the people about the money on the side that Santeramo wanted in 2005…. and guess what, Till allowed them to have it without the Board’s Approval. REMEMBER???
    And People wonder why he the Superintendent was fired back then!!! DUHHHH!!!!!

  6. Mental Midget Marty says:

    Marty — your response shows that your idiocy knows no bounds.

    Bus drivers, warehouse workers = professionals???

    What definition do you have of professional?

    I know one. The one the Florida Supreme Court has stated in numerous cases. Unless otherwise set forth in a statute, a professional is someone whose position requires a 4-year degree. Don’t know any bus driving or warehousing working degrees.

    While those positions as well as all of the ones you stated in your response are valued and valuable jobs, they are not all professionals.

    And as to my comment regarding $115k average for attorneys in Florida, please look to the Florida Bar, who has published that number in 2006 as the average attorney compensation in Florida.

    After 30 years and with a PhD, a teacher in Florida does not make as much as the “average” Florida attorney, or even as much as a first year attorney at a top firm.

    GOOD teachers are underpaid for what they do (poor teachers should be shot out of a cannon into the ocean).

    But then again, they make more than Professional Busboys and the Professional Bagboys at Publix. So you must be right.


  7. Marty Rubinstein says:

    So far so good…

    Not one of the “complainers” gets the idea that Teachers are NOT getting the raises they deserve.

    If that’s what you consider attacking teachers maybe you should take lessons in reading comprehension.

    What I AM saying is that the UNION is stopping teachers from making what they should. Attacking the UNION? You decide.

    How would you like to be given a $225 raise rather than a $1,001 instead? How about $30 for the following year rather than the $1,189 it should be? Those are real world 3% figures. That’s the direction of the article. Or are you telling all of us that you SUPPORT the UNION shafting junior teachers as well as top teachers?

    Take a moment and go to martyrubinstein.com to READ the second article. It provides figures, both BTU and real world.

    In my world, even the top teachers would be getting fair raises no matter how many years of seniority.

    Next complaint…

  8. Oops!!! says:

    Oh yeah, you also forgot to mention about the higher up’s in the BTU that are double-dipping.
    Getting a paid salary as a teacher while on a “leave of absence” and also getting paid by the union. Union members need to know that one. That’s where their money is going, besides, they are getting a raise, what they want is a “cost of living increase”, which is not fair. Other people who work in different jobs don’t get that, why should teachers be able too?

  9. Marty Rubinstein says:

    Hey, Oops! With that comment about the side money in 2005, you can only be one person! Call me, we haven’t touched base in a while…

    Till did a lot of things without Board approval. Till thought he was above the rules. One of the Board’s powers was to set policy, but that last fiasco of his, kicking underperforming high school students out was never approved by the Board as many others weren’t. But he fired for many other reasons.

    Till LOVED to play the hero. He spent more time in the field shaking hands with parents and business people than in his office doing his job. He absolutely loved to set the Board against the Union during closed door negotiations and then appear as the conquering hero when a settlement was reached. I was absolutely stunned and horrified at the way he played Board against Union at my first closed door session in 2003.

    As for double dipping? Yes. If nobody else, Santeramo and Schultz for sure.

    I AM preparing another article for my website which will outline some of the too many reasons why Till was fired. Maybe Buddy will re-print, maybe he won’t. We’ll see.

    Call me…

  10. Roose says:

    you forgot to mention that teachers don’t get promotions, there is no raise for a job well done, you make your money by staying in the system, teachers were promised that if they took a low salary for long enough eventually if would get bumped up, now they are taking the promised bump away, a contract is a contract, no matter how much you may disagree with the terms, it was already approved.

    most places on the East Coast will pay you $10K more, that covers more than the taxes, give me one reason anyone would stay here, for too long the philosophy was to get the cheapest teachers they could, and look where they got them, maybe they should think of recruiting better talent.

  11. Marty Rubinstein says:


    Sorry it took me until mid-November to read your post and reply, and maybe you’ll never read it, but here goes anyway…

    Very few union jobs get promotions so Teachers are not out of the ordinary when it comes to the issue. And yes, a contract is a contract, but why wait? Teachers only suffer the consequences of little or no money for 17 years in the Broward School system. No other Teacher Union treats their junior members as shabbily as does BTU and that’s a fact.

    Nobody with any common sense would negotiate such a contract and I fully blame all teachers for not demanding equity in pay across the board. 4,000 teachers get the spoils while almost 14,000 get the shaft. Unions are supposed to be about equity for its membership. I don’t consider keeping the bulk of its membership in poverty as equity for all. Neither should you. But it does make for good press that “teachers are underpaid.”

  12. school cancellations says:

    The most asked question this fall by students whenever I’ve been introduced in classrooms has been: “So are you the guy who decides on snow days?” “Yes, children, the responsibility for determining whether school is to be held rests with me

  13. over worked and under paid says:

    The salary step system benefits the administration more than teachers. Under our salary schedule, it is easy to assume that teachers are paid $72,000 having no more than a BA degree, because there it is, published for all to see. What a nice salary for working part time?

    However, to make that salary, you have to work 20 years (or more, if salary freezes take place during your career). The final raise, after 19 years of service is $11,000. However, most raises for the first 10 years are about $200 to $400 per year. At ten years, a nice $3700 raise is given, with $1000 raises for the next 5.

    A good tactic would be to encourage turnover. The working conditions at most schools usually encourages turnover before ten years, but for those teachers in line for major raises should be fired, or wage freezes put in place placing the back loaded raises just out of reach.

    This is why teachers have unions, this is why teacher unions need to be supported. They protect teachers from those with a spread sheet mentality.

  14. Sandy Kaye says:

    Teachers are not paid for the summer nor for two weeks at Christmas. Check your facts.

  15. Phylicia Soltren says:

    Related to the post title, I remember shortly after HS getting together with a bunch of friends. One picked up a copy of Cruising because, hey it’s got Al Pacino in it.