Is insurrection erupting within statewide teachers union?

classroom

In a seeming act of civil war, the second-in-command of the state’s teachers union says he’s now vying to take over leadership of the Florida Education Association (FEA).

FEA vice president Fedrick Ingram, the first African American elected president of United Teachers of Dade, on Friday posted an announcement on Facebook that he was running for union president against incumbent Joanne McCall.

The issue: The union needs to be “better, more powerful and proactive,” he said. Teachers have long been upset about the Legislature encroaching on public education, saying it’s boosting private schools at their expense and starving county schools systems of needed funding.

Ingram (via Facebook).

His “team,” he added, includes Andrew Spar for Vice President and Carole Gauronskas for Secretary-Treasurer.

“It has always been my way to work out differences from the inside,” he wrote, never mentioning McCall by name.

“However, there comes a moment in one’s life when matters become so serious and challenges so steep that hard decisions must be made. The circumstances at FEA are just that serious.”

A request for comment was left Friday with a FEA spokesman.

In a story published by POLITICO Florida Monday, McCall said she was “surprised, shocked and saddened” by Ingram’s decision to challenge her. Referring to her work with Ingram and FEA Secretary-Treasurer Luke Flynt, McCall said “the three of us have done much great work together as a team.”

“We have been working with a hostile legislature for two decades,” she wrote in the email. “The only way to make the necessary changes to current statutes is to elect true public education champions — people that actually care about our students, teachers, education staff professionals and our public schools.”

“This process didn’t get this way overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight,” she said. “However, staying laser focused on the strategy and mission that we have begun since my tenure (which is working) will make the difference.”

She added that she is looking forward to Election Day, when she expects “to elect more pro public education Senators and House members along with a pro public education governor so that our students have the best quality educators and the resources they deserve to do their jobs.”

The rest of Ingram’s letter follows:

“In 2015, I ran for FEA Vice President because I thought I could make a difference and help build FEA into a more powerful organization that would be a leader in the fight for our public schools. That’s still my intent. But time is an enemy.

“The unprecedented attack on our members from the passage of HB 7069 and HB 7055 in two consecutive years should cause us all to reevaluate and rethink our strategy, tactics and our goals.

“We are in the fight of our lives. Make no mistake about it. Our anti-union opponents are not coming after us because of who we are; they are coming after us because of who we can become. We simply can’t continue to conduct business as usual.

“We can win – for teachers, educational support professionals, higher ed, for those who will come after us and for those who have paved the way, and most of all for our students.

“But we cannot win with the reactive approach that has held our state organization back. That is why I’m announcing my candidacy today for President of the Florida Education Association.

“Two outstanding leaders join me. Andrew Spar, President of the Volusia United Educators, who also serves as the Florida AFL-CIO’s Secretary/Treasurer, is running for FEA Vice President; and Carole Gauronskas, the President of the St. Johns Educational Support Professional Association, is seeking the position of FEA Secretary-Treasurer.

“Together we launch this campaign, not because it’s easy but because it’s hard and because it’s necessary. The easy route for all of us would be to go with the flow and to pretend everything will work itself out – business as usual. We can’t do that …

“With your help and guidance we can build a better statewide union. This year we have seen an unprecedented organizing effort from our locals. You deserve the credit for giving us a foundation on which to build.

“Now we must shift to a long-range plan that includes strong support for locals under 50-percent membership and moving members to activists, and activists to leaders. We need to ensure that all of our locals, including those representing education support professionals and higher education faculty, are valued members in this team effort.

“In the coming weeks, we will continue this conversation about what FEA can become and how we can play offense instead of defense.

“These are challenging times, but challenges can be overcome. I give speeches all the time these days, but early in my life I had a stutter that was so severe that I couldn’t speak clearly until I was seven-years-old.

“A music teacher made a difference in my life. She told me to think about what to say (or sing), focus, take a deep breath and go for it. I overcame the stutter and went on after college to become a teacher, a school bandleader, and eventually Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year and a Florida Finalist for Teacher of the Year, UTD President, and today FEA Vice President.

“What kind of union do you want? If you believe, as we do, that it’s time for a vision, a new strategy and tactics in order to survive and thrive, then focus, take a deep breath and go for it. Join us. Together we can build a better, more powerful and proactive FEA.

“In solidarity, Fed.”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


8 comments

  • andy madtes

    May 20, 2018 at 7:55 am

    I applaud Fed Ingram for stepping up and being a leader. As the former president of the south Florida AFL-CIO I worked with Fed and the teachers in the state of Florida will be well served by his leadership.
    Most important fed will do whats in the best interest of his members. Unlike the current leadership Fed brings no Ego to the table. Way to go fed!!!!!

  • Thomas D James

    May 20, 2018 at 10:05 am

    So now FEA members will get a choice between worse and more worse! Fed was terrible as UTD President. In fact he was in the back pocket of the superintendent the minute he won the election. During his tenure, we lost thousands of members. he stopped supporting the class size amendment enshrined in the state constitution and bargained away the step schedule consigning mid career teachers to stagnating salaries and no hope of ever moving up the ladder like the veterans did. We have 15 year teachers making $46K. This will cost veteran teachers hundreds of thousands in pay they will never receive and much lower pensions since their five year average will be much lower than teachers who have retired recently.

  • Isaac Castineira

    May 20, 2018 at 10:46 am

    This coming from a man, that bargained away a protected grandfather salary schedule against state law. An action that has ruined the financial futures of all educators in South Florida. If he wins teaching will really be doomed in Florida.

  • Diana Moore

    May 20, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Today a new princess starts a new life of advocacy with her prince, and another sees the end coming. Karma is a bitch or you get what you sow because many stood by watching and doing nothing for too long.

  • Ingrid Robledo

    May 20, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    With Fed Ingram we’ll stand up to the legislative bullies always profiting off our students and tearing apart the authentic public schools.
    Let’s Stand Up! Let’s Speak Out!
    Unions care!
    Unions fight!
    Unions show up!
    Union starts with U.
    Do U care?
    Do U fight?
    Do U show up?
    I am a Union Enthusiast!
    #BeThere4PublicEd

  • Roosevelt

    May 21, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    I stand with Fed

  • Doc

    May 25, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Which evil do you choose. Joann or Fed. Neither have helped teachers, only themselves. It’s like voting for trump or Hillary. Two losers

  • Doc

    May 25, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Two check collectors. They throw teachers under the bus and collect 6-figures. Two terrible choices. It’s like choosing between trump and Hillary. If I could design a plan to destroy unions from the inside out, I’d do exactly what Joann and Fed are doing. Absolutely nothing for the teachers. Two losers

Comments are closed.


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