Teachers will monitor the halls of the Florida Capitol Monday and try to grab the ears of lawmakers.
The Florida Education Association holds its Day of Action on the eve of the 2019 Legislative Session. Expect calls to fund neighborhood public schools.
“We are united in delivering one message,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram.
“State leaders must fund our future. They must invest in neighborhood public schools, invest in the success of our students, and invest in the teachers and staff who work in our schools.”
The messaging comes as Florida’s state teachers’ union launches its Fund Our Future campaign. New advertisements stress the need to fund arts education, keep classrooms small and provide for school safety.
The group also notes a teacher shortage. The Florida Department of Education released a report verifying a lack of certified science, English and math instructors.
The FEA estimates Florida schools started the school year with more than 4,000 teaching vacancies. Based on DOE projections, there will be 10,300 teacher vacancies in the Fall.
Florida consistently ranks in the bottom 10 states for teacher pay and per student spending, the National Education Association reports.
“This state has neglected and abused public education for far too long,” Ingram said.
The push from teachers comes as school choice advocates and private schools enjoys greater influence in Tallahassee.
Gov. Ron DeSantis recently tapped former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoan as Education Commissioner. Ingram criticized the choice at the time.
“The policies that we’ve seen have not been conducive to student success,” Ingram told press.
Now, he says teachers arrive in Tallahassee determined to defend public schools from assault by competing forces.
““While lawmakers funnel taxpayer dollars to private schools and for-profit charters, neighborhood public schools starve — despite being responsible for educating the majority of children,” he said.
“Real harm is done to our students. Florida can do better, and we believe that it will once people understand that the future is at stake, for them and their kids.”
FEA members will present a focused message of unity not long after the association underwent significant internal disagreement.
In December, Ingram unseated former president Joanne McCall to lead the organization. He previously worked under McCall as vice president but announced last summer he would challenge her for the post.