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Press Release

FEA honors Champions of Public Education

Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith recognized for their work on behalf of students, educators and public schools

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Education Association (FEA) honored two state legislators Saturday for their ongoing advocacy for Florida’s students, educators and public schools. Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith each received the Champion of Public Education Award during the FEA’s 2020 Delegate Assembly, which took place virtually.

Recipients of FEA’s Champion of Public Education Award demonstrate peerless commitment and exceptional leadership on behalf of public education, have been consistently dedicated to the development and implementation of strong and effective education policy, exhibit a strong commitment to the basic principles of equal access to public education for all students, and demonstrate a commitment to FEA issues as reflected in their voting record.

“Florida’s students need more advocates like Sen. Cruz and Rep. Smith,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “We all do. The whole state wins when lawmakers focus on doing what’s right for our students. Sen. Cruz and Rep. Smith are working to build a better future for Florida.”

Senator Janet Cruz

Sen. Cruz, D-Tampa, has been a strong advocate for public education throughout her tenure in the Florida Legislature. In 2017, then-Rep. Cruz received FEA’s Friend of Education Award. As a member of the Senate Education Committee and author of several public school bills, Sen. Cruz is being honored this year for her steadfast support of students, teachers and education staff professionals. 

“I am deeply honored to be presented the Florida Education Association Champion of Education Award. I am proud to be a product of Florida’s public schools and to be the mother of two children who attended our local public schools here in Tampa. I know how valuable public education is to our state. A quality education can change a child’s life. It prepares them for the workforce, provides them a place to learn and grow, and for many students, it often can end a cycle of generational poverty. Every opportunity we have in life is a direct result of the education we have received, and I am honored to have the opportunity to advocate for funding for our public schools, support for our teachers and uplifting our communities by supporting public education.” — Sen. Cruz

Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith

Rep. Smith, D-Orlando, is one of the most ardent fighters for public education in the state House of Representatives. He earned the FEA Human and Civil Rights Leadership Award for his community activism as a freshman in 2016, and the Friend of Education Award in 2017. He continually uses his voice in committees and on the floor of the Florida House to advance the cause of equal access to public education for all students, and to guard against inequities regarding charter schools and voucher programs.

“I am deeply grateful for FEA’s recognition of our work to defend quality public education in the Legislature. We may not win every battle, but my commitment to promoting safe and healthy school environments for our most vulnerable kids, increasing veteran teacher pay, and raising standards for charters and voucher-funded schools will always be a top priority.” — Rep. Smith

CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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