The Florida Education Association (FEA) continues its “Fund Our Future Bus Tour” as it rolls into Manatee, Collier, DeSoto, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties this week.
The campaign is fighting for a numer of things, with filling teacher vacancies and increasing pay being two main issues.
The FEA is the state’s largest association of professional employees and the largest labor union in the Southeast, with more than 145,000 members, according to their website. It represents Pre-K-12 teachers as well as education staff professionals, higher education faculty and graduate assistants.
Association president, Fedrick Ingram, said the tour is meant to shed light on what is needed in Florida’s public education system.
“We are calling attention to these lack of resources and to some of the challenges that we are having teaching our kids and doing what we know is best for student success,” Ingram said.
Among those challenges is the ongoing fight for higher pay for Florida’s educators.
“We are the 46th in the nation for teacher compensation,” Ingram said, “and it’s making it more difficult and more challenging to stay in the profession of teaching.”
According to the FEA, Florida teachers are more than $12,000 below the national average in teacher pay.
“We know in Florida, we have a crisis with retaining teachers and with recruiting the very best teachers,” Ingram said.
At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, more than 300,000 Florida students were without a full-time, certified teacher in the classroom, according to the FEA.
The “Fund our Future Bus Tour” is in Manatee and DeSoto counties Tuesday. It moves to Pinellas and Hillsborough counties Wednesday.
- Wednesday, Nov. 6, Pinellas County: From about 10:30 a.m. to noon, the bus will make brief stops at Skycrest Elementary, Clearwater, and Pinellas Park High and Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, Largo.
- Wednesday, Nov. 6, Pinellas County: An Ice Cream Social with community members is planned for 2-3:30 p.m. at the office of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association (PCTA), 650 Seminole Blvd., Largo. PTA leaders, representatives of the Alliance for Public Schools, FEA leaders, and members of the Pinellas Educational Support Professionals Association (PESPA) and PCTA, along with high school students, will come together to discuss issues facing public education.
- Wednesday, Nov. 6, Hillsborough County: The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) will host a Community Conversation on student discipline, 6-8 p.m. at the HCTA office, 3102 N. Habana Ave., Tampa. Local public school students will share their experiences, and stakeholders will offer input and solutions.
The tour has stops scheduled throughout the state until the end of November, with the bus moving to the Miami-Dade area next. By the end of the tour, the bus will have visited more than 30 counties and made over 50 stops.