Teachers, community activists and union leaders will rally in front of the Old State Capitol Monday on the eve of the 2020 Legislation Session.
Organized by the Florida Educational Association (FEA), the “Take on Tallahassee: A Rally For Education” campaign will demand that state lawmakers fix what it calls fundamental flaws with Florida’s public education system.
FEA argues Florida is 43rd in the nation when it comes to total public education funding and 46th in average teacher salary. It also accuses state lawmakers of creating misguided policies that have led to the over-testing of students and school districts losing local control.
“This is about student success,” FEA President Fedrick Ingram said. “This is about getting all students the public schools they deserve.”
Ingram maintains the state has spent the past decade disinvesting in public education, to its detriment. He argues it’s time to speak truth to power and hold lawmakers accountable.
FEA officials anticipate thousands will participate in Monday’s rally. The response could top the 3,000 activists who showed up to rally in 2016. Participants are expected to include preK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, community activists and faith leaders.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton and National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García are among the slated out-of-state speakers.
Student journalists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will attend and report on the rally. A mass shooting at the school nearly two years left 17 people dead and 17 injured. State lawmakers immediately passed legislation, including mandating all Florida public schools have armed security and school administrators report the number of on-campus disruptive or violent incidents to the state.
Districts were also allowed to participate in the controversial school “guardian” program, which trains employees to carry guns in schools.
But last month a grand jury and a state commission found many school districts are failing to comply with those requirements.
FEA officials say anyone who cares about Florida’s preK-12 public schools, state colleges and universities are invited to participate. All who attend are encouraged to wear “red for ed.”
The rally starts at 1:30 p.m. Monday with a march from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. The Old Capitol rally program beginning at 2 p.m.
The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) will close Monroe Street between Gaines Street and College Avenue, according to TPD spokesman Officer Damon Miller Jr. And westbound Apalachee Parkway will be blocked at the Franklin Boulevard exit.
“Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area and take alternate routes,” Miller said. “TPD will advise when the roadways reopen.”