Referendum 210 Passes: A Victory for Miami-Dade County Public Schools

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Ms. Zuniga, Ms. Suarez, Mr. Garcia and Ms. Passwaters celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week.

Miami-Dade County voters delivered a major win for teachers and students by passing Referendum 210. Voted for in the Nov. 8 midterms, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ referendum asked property owners to agree to raise the property tax rate from 0.75 to 1, or $100 for every $100,000 in assessed taxable property value. This money will go towards raising $400 million for student safety and increased teacher compensation. Given that gun violence in schools is an ongoing problem and that teachers in Florida are drastically underpaid, this referendum was definitely a no-brainer.

According to MDCPS, the funds will improve school security and will provide police protection at every school. County records show that there has been a 45% increase in gun violence since 2016. Nearly one out of four victims were younger than 21. Though Congress has refused to implement common-sense gun control policies such as banning assault weapons or improving the screening process for those who attempt to buy guns, the passage of this referendum has given South Floridians some hope. Increased security in schools will definitely help to prevent school shootings. It is regrettable that there is no meaningful nationwide attempt to prevent gun violence; however, trained personnel will likely be able to keep students safe and able to focus on learning. 

“Although I would like to say I expected the referendum to pass, there was always an internal worry that Miami-Dade would fail me as Florida voters have in the midterm elections. I was pleasantly surprised, and I think that the county’s representatives should try their hardest to advocate for the expansion of policies that are working here to the rest of the state,” junior Steffi Sarmiento said.

I would like to think that teacher compensation and school security are issues that resonate with everyone and go beyond partisan politics. Miami-Dade County should absolutely be increasing teacher’s base salaries so that compensation is not dependent on the passage of something like this, but as I don’t really view that as a reality, I am grateful to the voters that helped it pass”

— Mrs. Landsea

As for increasing teacher pay, the referendum will likely deliver in that department, living up to its official purpose: to “secure our future”. Though it was a big ask for voters who are currently facing inflation and for homeowners in particular who would have to pay an extra $219 a year in taxes, the teacher shortage is severe in Florida.

This is likely because Florida ranks 48th in the nation for teacher pay. The average teacher salary is a mere $51,009 in the state, and according to a National Education Association survey, 55% of teachers are leaving the profession earlier than planned. These statistics are depressing for a state that prides itself on the quality of its public education. Referendum 210 is a step in the right direction to correct this problem and recruit more talented teachers instead of cutting back on important school programs.

“I personally see Referendum 210 as a move towards a safer learning environment. Schools should be a place of comfort and safety for students. An initiative that contributes towards this will certainly enhance students’ willingness to make efforts in academics,” junior Daphne Renoux said.

Given that 65% of voters supported the referendum, it is clear that Miami-Dade County’s residents believe that higher taxes are a worthwhile price to pay for better public education. Kids should not have to worry about their safety while at school; they should have the right to learn in a positive, calm environment. Hopefully, Referendum 210 will prevent tragedies like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting from occurring again in South Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis should follow MDCPS’ example by enacting policies that will significantly raise Florida’s statewide teacher pay ranking.