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Florida Voters, Parents and Students Need More from Leaders on Education Issues

Florida’s State of the State underscores a critical need for a shift in direction for Florida’s educational ecosystem, as many parents, students and educators feel left out of the conversation.

“Florida’s ability to lead on the world stage is being held back by a lack of investment in public education,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association (FEA). “Public schools are not just where childhood happens, they are the center of our communities. We’ve seen continued attacks on teachers, educational staff, parents, and students- and voters are listening. Florida voters, parents and students need more from leaders on education issues.”

A recent poll released by the Florida Education Association shows voters are frustrated with the governor’s divisive approach to education. Fifty-five percent of voters feel public education in Florida is on the wrong track while only 26% believe schools are on the right track.

In 2023, Florida led the nation in book bans while still facing a historic teacher shortage that has left millions of children without the stability they need to succeed. And while Governor DeSantis claims his budget will help teachers, it ensures the average salary for Florida’s teachers will remain in the bottom five in the nation. While the Governor touts Florida’s education rankings, what he doesn’t mention is Florida ranks 43rd in the nation in terms of per student spending and 48th in average teacher salary. There continues to be a failure in mental health investments for students, attacks on students of color in how standards are taught, and an exodus from the state and teaching in general because of politics that put students last. Florida’s higher education institutions are also facing renewed criticisms for their inclusion of diversity programs. For a state that claims to be “a refuge of freedom and sanity”, we have to ask, “for who?”

Florida’s students deserve strong public schools, colleges and universities that are fully staffed with qualified educators, that have small class sizes that allow for better attention and opportunity, that allow students access to nurses, counselors, and mental health professionals, and where students are given the opportunity to not just succeed but grow and imagine.

“For too long, we’ve seen the political ambitions of some leaders overtake rational conversations about the needs of students,” said Spar. “Instead, we should continue to focus on ensuring resources are available so that every child, regardless of their race, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code or ability, can thrive.”

The FEA is committed to being a unifying voice on education issues. Our state is better when we can work with lawmakers, parents, and communities. In this legislative session, we look forward to working with lawmakers to make sure we bring back considerable investments in public education that will make Florida the top ten in teacher pay.

FEA calls on state legislators to:

  • Expand financial investments in our schools and allocate sufficient funds to fairly compensate all school employees.
  • Ensure that students and educators are kept safe and learning progress continues.
  • Help address our educator shortage by allowing qualified, experienced teachers to earn multi-year contracts.
  • Protect academic freedom for all students and teachers in PreK-12, state colleges and universities.
  • Waive fees for certification renewals, add-on certifications and certification tests for teachers and those in teacher preparation programs.
  • Promote and fund pathways to teacher licensure for current education staff professional at no cost to the educator.
  • Continue extended DROP program to all educators.
  • Restore previous Cost of Living Adjustments for current and future retirees.
  • Fund a full-day PreK programs in “opportunity zones” of high poverty.
  • Revise statutes related to Required Local Effort to maintain current taxation rates.
  • Address the impact of the state’s property insurance crisis which affects school and family budgets.
  • Prioritize developmentally appropriate, teacher-led assessments and learning over mandated standardized tests.
  • Respect the rights of people to make decisions locally.

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CONTACT: Kat Canfield, kat.canfield@floridaea.org, 850-201-2833


The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 120,000 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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