Attacking educators does not help our students

Regarding SB 256, the Florida Education Association would note first: Politicians will not solve Florida’s teacher and staff shortage by attacking the rights of teachers and staff. Attempting to silence the people who along with parents care most deeply about Florida’s children will do not one whit of good for our students. Curtailing educators’ freedoms and threatening their right to join together as a union will in fact only worsen the staffing crisis, leaving more students without professionally trained teachers and the support staff necessary to meet their needs.

“Teachers, support staff and higher education faculty are working with students because they love it; they love their jobs. They make the personal choice to join their union because they want more support and resources for their students and themselves. They want to know they are not alone in a system that sometimes seems rigged against them and our students,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “Gov. DeSantis says he supports ‘teacher empowerment,’ but this bill does the exact opposite. It’s an attack, pure and simple, on educators’ basic freedoms and rights. When you stand up for what you believe or when you stand up for something the governor disagrees with, he comes after you, as we’ve seen with Disney, the College Board, elected officials and now Florida’s professors, teachers and staff.”

Florida’s shortage of teachers and school support staff has grown more severe in recent years. From January 2018 to January 2023, the number of teaching vacancies listed on district websites went from 1,492 to 5,294. Counting teachers and staff, there were 9,925 total vacancies posted this January, midway of the school year.

“This attack on educators’ freedom to join in union with their colleagues is just one more in a long line of insults and injuries to public schools and institutions of higher education, our students and us as professionals,” Spar said. “We have new laws that threaten to punish educators for teaching honest history, extremists pushed onto school boards, book bans. Teachers hear about big pay increases, but our state remains stuck near the bottom nationally in average teacher pay, and experienced educators were pushed to the back of the line. And now this. It’s no surprise that at some point people say, enough.”

While Gov. DeSantis seeks to bring divisive politics into our classrooms, the Florida Education Association seeks to unify Floridians on behalf of strong public schools, colleges and universities. We want to work together with parents, lawmakers and our communities to provide all students — regardless of race, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code or ability — with the education they deserve and need at fully funded and staffed public schools.


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.

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