Dean Kohn Wood Urges Support for Referendum #362

Read article on the Miami Herald

Let’s support teachers in our community

Teachers matter and support for teachers is critical. Miami-Dade County Public Schools has achieved incredible success, much of which can be credited to the countless committed teachers who spend each day working diligently for children who will determine the future direction and vitality of our community. Across the country the average salary for teachers has fallen while the cost of living has risen. We have an opportunity to begin to rectify this issue in our community. Several sources of evidence link teacher pay to teacher recruitment, retention and student outcomes. The state of Florida, and indeed the nation, is experiencing a critical shortage of teachers, especially in the STEM, English/Language Arts/Reading, Special Education, and TESOL certification areas. Communities that can provide commensurate compensation for teachers can attract highly quality teachers and can keep teachers. Teachers who feel valued are better prepared to add value to our students and to our schools. Without teachers we would not have an educated workforce; our future depends on teachers and a quality public education for all. Compared to other regions in the country, teacher pay is lower and teacher turnover higher here; many teachers are leaving Florida to teach where there are higher salaries offered. According to the Learning Policy Institute (8/24/18) – the Florida rating of “Teacher Attractiveness” is in the lowest quintile (Understanding Teacher Shortages Interactive), with starting salaries below the national average. As the daughter of teachers and the parent of a child in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system, and as someone who has personally and professionally experienced the power of education to transform lives, I urge voters to consider Referendum #362 that will generate revenue for teacher salaries and provide increased safety and security via a proposed levy on residential property.

Laura Kohn-Wood
Dean, School of Education and Human Development
University of Miami