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Teachers Want Voters To Consider Education Issues Ahead Of State Primary

According to the state's largest teacher's union, educators vote at a higher rate than the average Floridian.

Several dozen Pinellas County teachers gathered in downtown St. Petersburg Sunday for a "Get Out The Vote" rally. Like their counterparts across the country, the teachers wore the color red as a sign of solidarity. 

But Ann Preus, a teacher at Blanton Elementary in St. Petersburg, said the color has additional meaning.

"I find the state is slashing the education budget so bad, we're bleeding,” she said.

Education advocates have long argued that per pupil spending in Florida has not kept up with inflation. 

Preus also says school safety is a top issue. Last week, the veteran teacher took part in a safety drill at her school and called the experience unnerving.

"I have to train 5-year olds for an active assailant drill,” she said. “They had to run out of their classroom with their hands up to a locked fence. That is not normal."

Starting this year, all public schools in Florida are required by law to have at least one security officer.

Several more educators cited school safety as among the main drivers for how they will cast their ballots. Others included teacher pay and charter school expansion.

Susan Spaulding is a 2nd grade teacher at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo, and Vice President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association. She says when it comes to school board races, the union is endorsing candidates who are also educators.

"We want people who understand what is truly going on inside our classrooms,” she said. “It takes a teacher to know what teachers really need and we need all those things to properly educate our students and give them the quality education that every student deserves."

Additionally, teachers met with several school board candidates who came to Williams Park to campaign.

There are two countywide school board seats and two district seats on the Aug. 28th primary ballot.

Pinellas County is the eighth largest of Florida's 74 school districts.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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