TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis painted a rosy picture of the state of the state today, but the state of public education under his administration might be better characterized as a patch of thorns for both educators and our students.
“The governor’s top-line promises can sound good, but there’s always a catch,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association (FEA). “Gov. DeSantis says he’s for teachers’ rights, then moves to take away their rights to teach honest lessons or join together to advocate for Florida’s students and our profession. He says on repeat that he’s for freedom, but we see a multitude of limitations on what teachers and professors can teach, what students can learn, what books they can read, and what courses our college students can take. It’s like a game of opposites, with students losing.”
Florida’s students deserve strong public schools, colleges and universities. As it is, our preK-12 public schools face a staffing crisis that has gone from bad to worse under the governor’s watch, meaning an ever-greater number of our students are left without professionally trained teachers and support staff who can meet their needs.
“We recently saw a very violent attack on a paraprofessional in Flagler County. In a recent conversation with this paraprofessional, she alluded to the lack of staff and lack of support for the student as two of the main contributing factors,” Spar said.
Our colleges and universities, meanwhile, are at risk of slipping in any national rankings that consider academic freedom. This appears to have come about for the sake of scoring points on a national stage where the most corrosive and divisive style of politics is rewarded.
“The governor has touted how great our colleges and universities are in Florida, and how he plans to undermine the great work our professors do,” Spar added.
While Gov. DeSantis seeks to divide us and to crush any individual or entity who dares stand up — whether that’s a business such as Disney or educators who join together as a union — the FEA seeks to unite and to lift up. We want to work with lawmakers, parents and our communities to ensure that all students get the education they deserve and need, regardless of their race, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code or ability.
In this legislative session, we look forward to working with lawmakers to address the staffing crisis in Florida’s public schools. FEA calls on state legislators 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, firstname.lastname@example.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.