Teachers union seeks massive increase in school funding
The Florida Education Association is on the road this month, trying to drum up support for a big pay hike for teachers, better classroom maintenance, and more music and art classes. They are asking parents and teachers to come make their case to state lawmakers.
It's pinning its hope on rallying teachers and parents across the state to push lawmakers to pump more than $2 billion into education next year. FEA President Fedrick Ingram says its vital to keep teachers from pursuing other careers.
“Give us what we need to take care of these kids” says Ingram. “Give us what we need so that we can stay in this profession.”
And its not just a one year ask, but for $22 billion over ten years.
In addition to touring the state in this bus, the teachers are calling for a massive rally at the state Capitol on January 13th, the day before the legislative session begins.
It won’t be the first time.
In 2009 thousands of teachers brought more than two million pennies as they pushed for a sales tax increase for schools.
In the following years, chanting “enough is enough", thousands more teachers marched for better schools. Each time lawmakers did little.
”Let’s hold them accountable” was the theme at the rally.
So we asked what would be different this time.
“We’re fighting for kids everyday, and that’s what’s different,” said FEA’s Ingram. “And the pressure they are going to see is going to be bigger, broader, and more comprehensive than we’ve seen in the modern his history of the state of Florida.”
Teachers are quitting at record rates, often after just a year or two. Missy Rudd retired in June. She says many can’t make ends meet.
“It’s frustrating when we have to get a second or third job, or when you get an email from a team teacher that says, hey, I got this side business, can you come and support me?” says Rudd.
The Governor has proposed increasing starting teachers salaries to $47,500, but the teachers say they need a billion more to give every teacher a raise.
Education Week has ranked Florida dead last when it comes to per pupil funding. Average teacher pay in Florida currently ranks 46th in the nation.