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Crist’s choice reaffirms commitment to students, educators

TALLAHASSEE — With his announcement today of a running mate, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist reaffirmed and amplified his support for Florida’s students, educators and public schools.

“We’re thrilled by Charlie Crist’s choice,” said Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar. “Karla Hernandez will be a great lieutenant governor for all the people of Florida. She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities. By choosing Karla Hernandez, Crist makes clear that he values Florida’s students and respects our educators.”

In June, FEA joined with the Florida AFL-CIO in endorsing U.S. Rep. Crist as the next governor of Florida. On May 30, FEA President Spar said regarding the endorsement: “There is no question, Charlie Crist will be the best governor for Florida’s students. He is genuinely committed to ensuring that every child gets the education that he or she deserves and needs, no matter that child’s race, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code or ability. Certain politicians seek to sow division by pushing false narratives regarding public schools, but parents and educators can trust Crist to address the real problems that affect kids every day, such as Florida’s massive shortage of teachers and support staff. Crist will keep politics out of our classrooms and keep teachers and staff working in our schools.”

Throughout his political career, Crist has been a strong supporter of Florida’s students and public schools. As governor, he stood up to defend teachers from destructive legislation affecting their salaries, evaluations and job security, vetoing SB 6 in 2010. A year later, the changes in SB 6 passed and became law, setting Florida on the path toward the massive teacher shortage that we see today.

After he is elected as governor this fall, Crist pledges to fully fund public schools to ensure that all students have the resources they need to succeed. His “Freedom to Learn” plan promises his administration will:

  • Declare a teacher shortage emergency and aggressively begin recruiting teachers and education support staff to fill 9,000 empty classrooms and other critical education positions.
  • Invest in higher teacher pay to bring Florida’s average salary up to the national average.
  • Listen to and respect parents while easing their pain of politicized classrooms and pandemic learning loss, including the reduction in reading scores over the past few years.
  • Increase investments in students to enhance curriculum and improve exceptional student education (ESE) and career and technical education (CTE).
  • Expand voluntary pre-kindergarten to 3-year-olds; increase availability of all-day pre-K.
  • Make schools safer by building a culture and climate of trust and respect between parents, teachers, students, non-instructional staff, elected officials and law enforcement.

To see Crist’s full “Freedom to Learn” plan, go to: https://charliecrist.com/issues/freedom-to-learn/

Born and raised in Miami, Karla Hernandez is president of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) and serves on the FEA Governance Board and Executive Cabinet, the Florida AFL-CIO’s executive board, the Children’s Trust’s executive board and the Education Fund’s executive board. She is a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Before dedicating her life and career to advocating for public education, Hernandez taught in the classroom for more than 10 years. In 2010, she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School in Miami-Dade County for her outstanding work with special needs children.

Hernandez is happily married and the mother of two. She is an active member of her church, where she volunteers her time for humanitarian efforts overseas.

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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.

Visit the FEA Voter Toolkit

The November 8 General Election is just around the corner and education will be a central issue during this critical election season. The FEA Voter Toolkit has election resources and endorsed candidates for local school Boards, the Florida House and Florida Senate, and Governor.

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