Around FEA

This article appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of The Advocate, the official publication of the Florida Education Association.

On FYRE for reading

Florida’s Young Remarkable Educators (FYRE) have partnered with local unions and Student FEA to give away about 10,000 of books to children throughout Florida in the past year.

First Book events took place in Lee, Leon, Polk, Palm Beach, Volusia, Okeechobee, Brevard and Seminole counties with help from the local educator unions. In Seminole County, the Student FEA chapter at the University of Central Florida also pitched in for two Knights Read Bus events, with the bus traveling to schools. Student FEA helped out in Leon County as well.

Events are tailored for each community. In Okeechobee County, the Okeechobee Education Association and the local FYRE have teamed up with local businesses to place plastic crates filled with books in their buildings. In Palm Beach County, books were available at four locations for a week. In Polk County, there was a drive-through for carry-out books.

Besides FYRE and local education unions, First Book event sponsors include the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Since 1992, national non-profit First Book has distributed more than 185 million books and educational resources in more than 30 countries.

FYRE members are nominated by their local union presidents for the group, which offers special opportunities and training for up-and-coming
educators with less than 10 years of experience in our schools.

Happy anniversaries!

Please join us in congratulating two local unions celebrating landmark anniversaries this year. The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) is marking 100 years since it began in 1921 as a committee within the Hillsborough County Education Foundation. HCTA broke away from the foundation in 1965.

It’s 80 years for the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association (OCCTA), which has in its archives a typed letter from the National Education Association (NEA) dated April 9, 1941, that congratulates Orange teachers on forming what
was considered by the NEA to be the first county education union in Florida.
Also in Orange’s archives are clippings and documents that show educators’ concerns in the mid-20th century were much like ours today. In a 1950 survey, members’ suggested rejecting salaries based on principal evaluations, asking the school board for salary raises based on cost-of-living increases and putting union informational materials on bulletin boards. The slogan for a 1951 membership drive was “Be Strong, Belong!”

On its website, HCTA outlines the long list of victories the union has negotiated over the decades, including benefits packages that include life and health insurance, duty free lunch, personal leave days, eliminating the requirement for pregnant teachers to resign or take a leave 60 days before the birth, and the creation of the sick leave bank.

Both OCCTA and HCTA will celebrate their special anniversaries this fall in whatever format Covid protocols allow, and both plan to get commemorative T-shirts.

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