Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum secured support from a South Florida teachers’ union on Sunday.
The endorsement from the United Teachers of Dade, which boasts more than 30,000 teachers and related professionals, is the latest public education interest group to throw its weight behind Gillum, who made an early campaign promise to increase public education spending by $1 billion.
Karla Hernandez–Mats, president of the teachers’ union, emphasized the need for “change” in a statement announcing the endorsement.
“We need a Governor that fights for everyone, especially our most vulnerable,” said Hernandez-Mats. “Our kids deserve the best, let’s give them Andrew Gillum.”
“Without the care and support I received from my teachers growing up, I would not be the person I am,” Gillum said in responding to the endorsement. “An investment in education is not only an investment in our children, but it is an investment in our future.”
Gillum in April unveiled his “Fair Share for Florida” education plan. The extra $1 billion promised will come from increased corporate income taxes. Also included in the policy proposal is a $50,000 minimum starting salary for public school teachers.
Following Gillum’s primary upset victory, the Tallahassee mayor received support from the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union. FEA had previously backed Democrat Gwen Graham, but quickly shifted to Gillum after Aug. 28.
The political arm of FEA last week put $100,000 into Gillum’s campaign.
Ron DeSantis, Gillum’s Republican opponent, debuted his education plan last week. He is emphasizing the need for vocational and trade training. Support for school choice also is included in DeSantis’ plan. Rather than an across-the-board increase in teachers’ salaries, DeSantis indicated support for merit-based pay increases.