Broward must press on with teacher pay plan | Letters to the editor

A few weeks into Superintendent Peter Licata’s tenure, the Broward School Board made a costly error voting against a necessary increase in teacher compensation.

Florida ranks 48th in average teacher salaries. Housing costs and inflation have burdened educators already suffering long before the pandemic.

Board members concerned about cuts to I.T. and other programs to pay for raises proposed by board member Allen Zeman miss the forest for the trees. Research conclusively shows that the most important driver in student learning is the teacher. As pay continues to lag behind other professions requiring advanced education, the county will struggle to fill critical vacancies.

While a majority of the Board and its superintendent recommend waiting until January to reconsider, over 260,000 Broward students will continue to be underserved as vacant teaching positions go unfilled. Board members should review the law of supply and demand from any high school economics class — if they can find one with a teacher, that is.

Luiz Bravim, Hollywood

Act now on salaries

Finally, teacher and principal pay is front and center. For years, our teachers and principals and their organizations have stressed that good schools require decent salaries for those working with students. The raises being considered by the School Board will have to be negotiated, and Broward’s new superintendent needs time to work out the impacts.

Teacher shortages won’t be solved by lowering hiring standards. Contrary to the claims of a vocal minority, our School Board works hard to put students first and employ personnel to ensure student success. For years, the public has said that educators are underpaid. Considering how expensive today’s college degrees are, and the high cost of living in Broward, it’s time to put dollars behind our words.

Action is long overdue!

Maureen Dinnen, Fort Lauderdale

The writer is a former Broward County School Board member.

(Editor’s Note: The next School Board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, at 600 S.E. 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, where the board will tentatively approve a new budget).

Undermining truth

Neglecting our right to vote strips away our power to shape society and opens the door to officials who may not represent our values or interests. This weakens democracy.

In the Florida Legislature, we have witnessed changes that adversely impact communities. Unfortunately, when government leaders wield words to diminish the contributions of the Black community and erase the grim reality of slavery, even citing its benefits, it undermines truth.

Such words can hinder social progress and make Black people feel uncomfortable.

Recognizing the invaluable contributions and struggles of Black people is not only a matter of social justice but also unifies citizens. It is vital to teach Black greatness alongside the history of slavery. The Department of Education’s campaign to revise the curriculum perpetuates harmful and ignorant notions.

The effects of not voting also extend nationally. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision against race-conscious admission policies ends affirmative action in higher education, undermining diversity and equal opportunity. This restricts progress in addressing systemic discrimination and neglects the need to correct educational inequalities.

To safeguard democracy and advance social justice, we must exercise our right to vote.

Rosalind Osgood, Fort Lauderdale

The writer is a member of the Florida Senate, District 32.

Stop horse slaughters

As a Florida resident, I am deeply concerned about the pressing issue of horse slaughter, which demands immediate attention. With Sen. Marco Rubio representing our state and its strong equestrian ties, we have a unique opportunity to advocate for the welfare of equines.

I commend Rubio, one of nine Senate co-sponsors of the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (S.2037), which seeks a permanent federal ban on domestic horse slaughter and exportation of horses for slaughter abroad for human consumption. Without this legislation, the U.S. will continue sending thousands of American horses across our borders each year to be slaughtered for their meat.

We need to ensure that SAFE Act language is included in the upcoming federal farm bill. Let us unite in making a brighter future for our nation’s horses.

Sophia Pastorini, Coral Gables