Thousands to rally at Florida Capitol for teacher pay

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
January 6, 2020

Next Monday, thousands of teachers from across the state will be at the State Capitol, hoping to set the agenda for the annual legislative session that will begin the next day.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Thousands of teachers from across Florida will be at the State Capitol next Monday, hoping to set the agenda for the annual legislative session that will begin the next day.

Their message: It’s time for not just a higher minimum salary, but much more.

“We can not continue to do what we do and the magic that happens between a teacher and a student when our lights are being cut off. When we can’t afford mortgages or rent,” said Fedrick Ingram, President of the Florida Education Association.

On top of bonuses, Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed raising teacher salaries to a minimum of $47,500.

“Which takes Florida from 26th to number two in the nation,” DeSantis said.

The Governor’s plan is being called a start, but supporters for teachers say it’s not a cure for where they're currently at.

The union believes everyone, from the janitorial staff, to cafeteria workers and bus drivers, need more money.

“This school year we had 3,000 classrooms that did not have a certified teacher," Ingram said. "The Governor’s plan will not cure that. We still have over 2,000 vacancies that are teacher shortages. We have bus driver shortages."

Under Florida law, it’s illegal for public employees, including teachers, to go on strike, but they point to actions teachers took in other states.

They want to put national pressure on lawmakers.

“And it is up to us to put pressure on lawmakers. To let them know we’re going to nationalize this issue," Ingram said. "Because if we want to be at the forefront of what’s right, we’ve got to recognize what’s wrong."

Many lawmakers are leery of mandating raises from here in the Capitol.

That’s because teacher pay is the cornerstone of collective bargaining with local school boards.

So far, the Governor’s raise plan has gotten a cold shoulder from some top lawmakers, because of the cost and since local school boards set salaries.

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