fbpx

A good budget for the times, but significant investment still needed

TALLAHASSEE — Given the challenges presented to Florida’s finances by the coronavirus pandemic, the state budget signed today stands as a victory for public education — with caveats.  

“Going into the 2021 legislative session, we were told to expect deep cuts in higher education and smaller cuts for PreK-12 public schools. Given the circumstances, the final budget is a win for our students and public schools,” said Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar. “It is not perfect. This budget fails veteran teachers, the experienced professionals we’re struggling to keep in classrooms, and it fails to reward the support staff who are essential to educating our students. It funds unaccountable private and religious schools at the expense of the public schools that educate 90 percent of Florida’s students.” 

In the end, PreK-12 funding was kept level while districts were given some increased flexibility. In a move without precedent in recent memory, money was set aside for the additional students who may return to our schools this fall. Federal dollars also continue to help Florida’s public PreK-12 schools and institutions of higher education. As FEA President Spar said recently, “Thanks go to Congress and President Biden for giving Florida the resources to help our public schools as they come out of the pandemic.”  

Some of the federal money will be used to fund bonuses for Florida’s teachers and principals. While those individuals certainly deserve recognition, Spar has pointed out, “It takes a whole educational village to serve students. Giving a bonus to only teachers and principals overlooks all the other people who are crucial to educating kids — bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, counselors and many other support staff.” 

Pre-pandemic, Florida’s public schools had already suffered decades of underfunding. We rank 43rd nationally in funding for public education. Too many of our students have been left behind by underfunded and under-resourced classrooms.  

Our state struggled before Covid and struggles still with severe shortages of the teachers and education staff professionals necessary to meet students’ needs. Efforts to raise minimum teacher salaries have ended up penalizing veteran teachers, the long-serving, highly skilled educators best positioned to guide both students and their less-experienced colleagues. 

Now is the time for a great reset for public education in Florida, for a new normal that serves all of our students. The Florida Education Association is committed to making that vision a reality. 

CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org, (850) 201-3223

###


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.

Locked out, but never knocked out

Despite pandemic restrictions, FEA members found numerous ways to speak up for students, public education, and our freedoms and working conditions

Read more about this story

Cover Story: The advocate’s advocate

From the time he entered the classroom in 1958, Ulysses Floyd has been working to improve conditions for Florida’s students and educators.

Read more about this story

Andrew Spar: We continue the fight for Florida to ‘Fund Our Future’

So many of the events of the past year have had a profound effect on our lives. I’d like to begin with a review.Last January, we came to Tallahassee and…

Read more about Andrew Spar: We continue the fight for Florida to ‘Fund Our Future’

Rule must show our students and educators some respect

The Florida Education Association believes that all our students deserve the best education possible. We believe further that educators deserve professional respect — for their earned expertise in teaching, for…

Read more about Rule must show our students and educators some respect

A good budget for the times, but significant investment still needed

Given the challenges presented to Florida’s finances by the coronavirus pandemic, the state budget signed today stands as a victory for public education — with caveats.  

Read more about A good budget for the times, but significant investment still needed

Federal funds can lift up all the people in our schools

Teachers, education staff, parents and our communities have come together over the past 14 months to ensure that our students had as much support as we could offer. The Florida…

Read more about Federal funds can lift up all the people in our schools