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Florida teachers march for better pay and support

New York Teacher
Mulgrew stands among a crowd of women wearing red shirts

UFT President Michael Mulgrew speaks at the Florida teachers’ march in Tallahassee on Jan. 13.

Thousands of Florida teachers did not report to work on Jan. 13 in order to march in Tallahassee to protest decades of systematic attacks on public education, despite threats by the state education department against them and their union.

The protesters charged the state Legislature with starving public schools of funding and said high-stakes testing, low salaries and insufficient support for instructors have combined to fuel a teacher shortage.

Florida, which ranks in the bottom 10 states in teacher pay, has more than 3,500 vacant teaching positions.

In a letter, an education department attorney threatened termination if teachers didn’t report to work and said their union could face a fine or have its certification as bargaining agent revoked or suspended.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has declared 2020 the “Year of the Teacher” and proposed spending $603 million to raise teachers’ starting pay, with an additional $300 million for bonuses for highly effective teachers. Educators have called the plan “a good start” and are asking for a 10% across-the-board raise for all classroom teachers and school staff.

Daytona Beach News-Journal, Jan. 13
Education Week, Jan. 13

Related Topics: Labor issues