For all the children who attend Florida’s public schools, and for all the children who someday will attend those schools, a vote today by the state House represents a terrible loss. By choosing to pass a universal voucher bill, certain lawmakers have opted to drain away money from the public schools that educate nearly 90 percent of our state’s students. No matter the false reassurances about its cost, House Bill (HB) 1 stands to direct billions of taxpayer dollars to unaccountable, private corporate-run schools — at the expense of the neighborhood public schools that serve most of our kids.
“Students and their families need lawmakers’ support,” said Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar. “The public schools that most families choose need lawmakers’ support. All of Florida’s children should be able to get the education they deserve and need at fully funded and staffed public schools. This bill is going to make life tougher for a lot of kids. It will mean fewer resources in their schools, and fewer teachers and staff to meet their day-to-day needs.”
HB 1 will make a bad situation worse, as our public schools have long been underfunded and understaffed. Florida already ranks 44th in the nation for spending per student in our neighborhood public schools. The state has a critical and increasing shortage of teachers and staff, including bus drivers, paraprofessionals, nurses and mental health counselors.
Now certain politicians have put our state in the position of writing checks to millionaires with kids in exclusive private schools, while the public schools educating the children of everyday Floridians struggle to get the resources and staff that our students need, and to operate under onerous laws and rules restricting what teachers can teach and what students can learn.
We aren’t fooled by false promises for future deregulation of public schools because we see all the additional burdens that are being placed on teachers, staff and students during this legislative session.
Florida’s students deserve strong public schools. In this legislative session, we call on state lawmakers to:
- Increase funding for public education to provide students with the resources and services they need.
- Fund fair, competitive pay for all school employees.
- Cut down on the bureaucracy that complicates teacher pay and penalizes experience.
- Treat teachers, professors and staff with the respect they deserve as professionals.
- Protect students’ freedom to learn and educators’ freedom to teach.
- Protect educators’ rights to join together as a union to advocate for their professions, our students and public education.
CONTACT: Joni Branch, email@example.com, (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.