FEA: Legislative Leaders' Valentine Message To Teachers, School Employees Is Far From Sweet

By: Florida Education Association Email
By: Florida Education Association Email

News Release: Florida Education Association

TALLAHASSEE – As Valentine’s Day nears, some political leaders in Tallahassee aren’t showing Florida’s public schools a whole lot of love. But Florida Education Association (FEA) polling shows that voters remain firmly behind public schools and its teachers and education staff professionals.

The Governor’s budget proposal and legislation to radically alter a healthy Florida Retirement System are just two of the issues that are causing concern, said Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall.

“House Speaker Will Weatherford is on record as saying he’s going to once again push for sweeping changes in the state’s retirement system,” McCall said. “The speaker and some of his colleagues continue to seek to dismantle a retirement system that is considered one of the best and most well-funded in the country.”

On Gov. Rick Scott’s budget proposal, McCall said it doesn’t begin to cover all the changes mandated by the Legislature in recent years.

“The budget the Governor proposes barely moves our investment in Florida’s students to the level it was when he took office, and it remains less per student than it was in the 2007-2008 school year,” McCall said. “Since that budget six years ago, the Florida Legislature has piled on demand after demand of our schools and these mandates have largely gone unfunded. These mandates vastly increase testing, demand much more time from our teachers, and they require training and technology that are far from fully realized.”

But polling conducted for FEA in December found that registered voters felt strongly that public schools deserved better support. That survey found that:

  • 65 percent approve of the job their public schools are doing.

  • 70 percent rate their teachers positively.

  • 90 percent say teachers are NOT the problem in our schools.

  • Two-thirds say teachers are paid too little.

  • And nearly 70 percent say the Legislature should leave the retirement system for teachers alone despite the cost to taxpayers.

McCall said FEA is urging teachers, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, teacher aides, office workers, and everyone else in our public schools to send out a few Valentines this week.

“We want them to write a Valentine to Speaker Weatherford and to tell their stories about the impact they have on the lives of our students,” McCall said. “We want him – and all political leaders -- to know about our dedication to our students, and that we will always be there for them. But we also want them to know we’re disappointed in their lack of support.”

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