Support Education? Support Teachers

Support Education? Support Teachers

Heeding the Siren Call

The recent Time magazine cover depicting a teacher with the headline “I have a master’s degree, 16 years of experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay the bills. I am a teacher in America” is a siren call to parents, business owners and school and government officials across the nation.

And it is something I plan and pledge, steadfastly, to address if I am elected to serve District 2 for Brevard Schools.

Tasked with mounting and increasing classroom responsibilities; forced to make due with outdated materials and, in some cases, outdated textbooks; using their own money to purchase school supplies; and expected to manage behavior and teach up to 20 students at a time, for just a few examples, for far too long teachers have been getting the short end of the pointer. And all this has been happening while pay increases have remained stagnant (or non-existent) and state and federal resources have been diverted to other academic and non-academic priorities.

Across the country, entire districts of teachers are waking out of classrooms to protest inferior pay, substandard conditions and to demand recognition – and appropriate pay – for the miracles they are expected to perform with our children. They are not asking for exorbitant pay hikes – but they are asking for fair pay for the enormous amounts of work they are required to perform and the education required of them to do it.

Most teachers I know love their jobs and are happy, excited even, to go to work each day. But many are leaving the profession after only a short period of working in it due to the massive demands and poor pay. In Florida, teacher pay is ranked 42nd in the nation, while cost of living is 16th highest in the nation. This is untenable.

As a former school social worker in rural Colorado, I know firsthand how frustrated teachers are. I heard the stories day in and day out and I am hearing them here, in Brevard, from many of the men and women who staff our classrooms.

And I am making a promise to each and every one of the 4,700 or so teachers in Brevard County: I will work for YOU.

I will lobby and persist for pay increases across the board for all teachers.

I will work to ensure that threats to your retirement benefits are defeated.

I will seek input from teachers, business owner and professionals, legislators and administrators, and really, anyone who will pledge to help me, about sustainable solutions to the fact that teachers nowadays are being paid about 20% less than their colleagues with comparable credentials, all while trying to pay down massive student loan debts, and manage a household and family of their own.

Cheryl McDougall, a retired school social worker, is running for District 2 representative. From her work as a psychiatric nurse to school social worker to a 10-year leadership role in a managed medical health organization, Cheryl has dedicated her career to helping others and brings a wealth of hands-on and negotiation skills to this demanding role. Campaigning on three tenets: Increasing Teacher Salaries; Integrating Social Emotional Learning into existing school learning requirements; and Developing an Inclusive Community Advisory Board – comprised of school faculty, administration, parents, business owners and students – to help celebrate district successes and identify and address district needs, Ms. McDougall has been endorsed by the Brevard Federation of Teachers, Space Coast Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, The Florida Puerto Rican /Hispanic Minority Empowerment Committee and the Space Coast Progressive Alliance. For more information, email her directly at

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