A Florida teachers union is planning to hold a massive protest Monday, one day before the state Legislature’s 2020 session begins.
The Florida Education Association says it will bus thousands of teachers, parents and public education supporters to Tallahassee for the “Take on Tallahassee” march on the Capitol, as a state Senate Education Committee determines how to boost pay for classroom instructors.
The teachers union and its allies argue that a decade of inadequate funding has hurt Florida’s public education system. Statistics show that more than 300,000 students began classes last fall without a full-time permanent teacher.
In addition, districts scrambled to fill more than 3,500 teaching vacancies around the state when the school year started.
“It is time to speak truth to power,” says Fedrick Ingram, FEA’s president. “We have seen more than a decade of disinvestment in public education in this state, and that has to stop.”
Florida ranks among the bottom 10 states in terms of teacher pay. Many school staff earn a wage that falls below the federal poverty line. Per-pupil spending is approximately $300 less than it was in 2007 ($8,490 to $8,817 when adjusted for inflation).
Speakers scheduled to appear at the rally include Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
In addition, Facebook posts promote activist and television personality Al Sharpton as a speaker for the event, but his appearance has not been confirmed.
The NEA and AFT are the country’s largest unions. They have been successful over the past year in convincing lawmakers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona to increase spending on schools.