As lawsuit ends, we look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of 2021

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Education Association (FEA) today formally ended its lawsuit Florida Education Association et al v. Ron DeSantis, as Governor of the State of Florida et al, filing a notice of dismissal in Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, Leon County.

“The issues at stake in the lawsuit are still extremely important for students, educators and our communities. We still want students and education employees to be safe. We still want local districts to be allowed to make decisions for their own schools,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “But we are no longer pursuing those goals in court. We’re looking ahead to 2021 and what will move the needle for public education — what will most improve the lives of our students and educators, PreK-12 through higher education.”

The FEA called in 2019 for a “Decade of Progress” for Florida’s public schools, and will push to move forward a pro-public education agenda during the upcoming legislative session. The pandemic has only magnified the needs of a system struggling under more than a decade of underfunding.

In 2021, we will seek to build on the progress made in the 2020 session and elections, when lawmakers moved to increase the minimum teacher salary, and voters passed a minimum wage amendment that will help many school support employees, raising their pay to $15 an hour by 2026.

“We see those actions as a good start,” said President Spar. “But support personnel need paychecks that they can live on now, and the 2020 legislation left many veteran teachers out in the cold — earning about the same as people new to the classroom. We continue to have shortages of teachers, bus drivers and paraprofessionals. The state clearly needs to do more to retain experienced school employees and provide stability for the kids in our classrooms.”

In 2021, as we continue to cope with the many challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, the FEA will petition legislators for increased support for students, educators, PreK-12 public schools and public institutions of higher education. And as in our lawsuit, we will continue to fight for the safety of everyone in our schools, along with the rights of districts to make local decisions.

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, educational staff professionals, higher education faculty and graduate assistants, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers, and retired education employees. Connect with FEA on Facebook, Twitter and at https://feaweb.org.

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