TALLAHASSEE — After a year like no other has sharply spotlighted the needs of our students, the Florida Education Association (FEA) has one big ask of the governor and lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session: Focus on what matters for public education, on actions that will have a direct and positive impact on students, educators and public schools.
“This is not a normal year, and it’s certainly not the time to abandon or lessen our commitments to students,” FEA President Andrew Spar said Monday in advance of the 2021 session’s opening. “The pandemic made it abundantly clear that our classrooms are the best places for kids to learn. It demonstrated that public schools are essential to their communities and to the state’s economy. After a year of incredible disruption and stress, we need to lift up and support public schools. Lawmakers must continue to invest in our students, teachers and all school employees. Public schools need the resources to help kids get past this pandemic and succeed.”
As the world watched during the past year, teachers and education staff professionals overcame tremendous obstacles to keep students safe, fed and learning. In Florida, however, educators’ dedication to students stands in sharp contrast to our state’s historic lack of support for public education. We have experienced more than a decade of state disinvestment in public schools, an erosion of local control in our districts, a high-stakes testing regime that steals away time for real teaching and learning, and a school accountability system that punishes poverty and whole communities.
Now, more than ever, we need to continue our “Decade of Progress” for public education. Educators are calling on lawmakers to:
- Preserve and expand financial investments in our schools and school employees.
- Ensure that students and educators are kept safe in the ongoing pandemic.
- Help address our educator shortage by allowing qualified teachers to earn multi-year contracts.
- Pause the negative consequences associated with high-stakes testing for at least two years.
- Allow locally elected school boards more control over their own districts.
- Provide educators with a stable retirement system.
- Protect academic freedom at our state colleges and universities.
Students, educators and public schools deserve lawmakers’ support and their best efforts to improve public education.
“This is not the time for distractions or partisan posturing,” Spar said. “After all our kids and educators have been through, let’s stay focused on making real progress for Florida’s students. Our state’s future depends on it.”
The FEA will be following along during the governor’s State of the State address. Follow us beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday on Twitter, https://twitter.com/FloridaEA, and Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/floridaea.
CONTACT: Joni Branch, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, educational staff professionals, higher education faculty and graduate assistants, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers, and retired education employees. Connect with FEA on Facebook, Twitter and at https://feaweb.org.