Updated: Jul 12, 2022
On August 23rd, there will be a referendum - as written by our City Council - that will enter the polls to give Duval County voters the choice of raising their property taxes for the benefit of raising the salaries of Public School Teachers. According to the school district, if the referendum were to pass in elections, the district anticipates collecting at least $81 million annually over a four year period starting in July 1st, 2023 which will total $324 Million. From there, the tax would need to be voted on again to be renewed.
For context of how this additional tax would work: The current property tax rate for the city of Jax is 11.4419 mills, which raises about $11.44 in taxes per $1,000 of taxable property value. For the owner of a $125,000 home in Duval County with a $25,000 homestead exemption for school taxes, one mill would add $100 to the annual property tax bill.
The plan is for (65%) of the property tax revenue to go toward teachers' salaries, an eighth (12.5%) would go to arts and athletics, one eighth (12.5%) would go to charter schools because of a state law, and the remainder (10%) would go to staff. Duval Schools Superintendent Diane Greene(pictured below) said this would help level the playing field for long time, veteran teachers who have not benefitted from newly increased starting salaries. "The problem is you have a veteran teacher making almost the same as an individual who is 17 days in the teaching profession out of college," Greene said.
As egalitarian as this may sound; the truth of the matter is that UNDERPAID TEACHERS ARE A MYTH. It's a myth that is continuously perpetrated by the media to have public & secondary schools teachers make more money. In Duval County, the average base salary of $47,458.26 is ranked 40th out of 69 for average teacher salaries statewide. Other large school districts, including Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, use millage supplements to boost their salary amounts, the district said.
Another example is a story of a woman told by Time Magazine in 2018 who makes $55,000 per year teaching but works two other jobs in order to “pay the bills.” The article includes complaints about a teacher making almost $70,000 per year and even suggests that sexism is partly to blame for deficient pay because there are more women teachers than men. However, if the media cared so much about teachers as a class, they would also advocate for private school teachers (who make far less than public school teachers on average). There is something about public education that concerns them.
Of course, DCPS can always push for more money for public school teachers because they are paid through coercive TAXATION, while private school teachers are directly paid by the demands of parents. This is the difference between TAXATION and VOLUNTARY EXCHANGE. Regardless of the services that will actually be provided, public institutions such as DCPS are suggesting that the amount of tax money they could raise is LIMITLESS. In other words; it doesn't matter if the children actually graduate or not, Government will spend to the high heavens!
This is the great irony of the claim that public school teachers are underpaid. With socialized education, state governments have removed the very market forces that determine wages. So there is no way to measure what a teacher actually “should” be paid. There are private schools in Jacksonville, but these schools are an imperfect measure of teacher pay because the government’s quasi-monopoly on education decreases demand for private education. Parents are not likely to pay for private schools when “free” public schools are available. Those who send their children to private schools effectively pay DOUBLE TUITION, as they must continue to pay property taxes for public schools THAT THEY DO NOT USE.
It is certain that public school teachers are GROSSLY overpaid because as a rule, Government employees are paid more than their private counterparts. Public School Teachers and other Government employees receive hefty pensions & insurance packages as part of their compensation. These benefits, as well as the favorable hours and extensive vacations, are often left out of discussions of teacher pay.
Public Teachers wage premiums are due to the Government's Quasi-Monopoly on Public Education and the stupid-high revenue brought in by involuntary taxation as revealed here: https://mises.org/wire/fair-wage
It's bad enough that teachers unions have choked competition & drove up wages by lobbying for ridiculous state certification standards (usually requiring a degree through a university’s college of education rather than mere proficiency in the subject taught). Of course, some teachers would be paid a high wage in a free market. However, this would be the best and most skilled teachers, not just those who teach for many years and receive automatic annual pay increases (a practice that was negotiated by unions). The current public school system actually discourages teacher development by rewarding the number of years worked instead of the individual’s performance.
The main point of this article, is that a school system that is exempt from market forces is unable to calculate the market value of schooling and the wages of the teachers who provide their services. Instead, teacher salaries are determined by government bureaucrats, and these vary widely by state and district.
Public school teachers are not “underpaid.” No one knows what they should be paid because there is no free market to address this question. However, we can be sure that many public school teachers are earning far more than they would be if exposed to market demands, where schools seek to provide the best education for the lowest cost. Free choice in education would link a teacher’s pay to the value of his or her services, in contrast to the current coercive system that pays many teachers more than their productivity justifies.