Posted in Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

DeSantis Targets and School Boards With Teachers Bill of Rights – Sun Sentinel

When I began my teacher journey back in the seventies…Even though our pay was quite inadequate… We had such hope, and a surplus of teachers…So much so, I had to travel 90 miles a day, just to teach…

Being apolitical, I did not realize, nor appreciate our teacher’s union…For years, stayed away from joining…

I then realized by those “No Child Left Behind ” years …We sure needed that unity of the union for our advocacy… And especially now in these divisive times it is critical…

So for me, doing my part, now, even though I am retired, I am proudly a member of my local, ACEA; Alachua County Education Association, FEA; Florida Education Association and AFT; American Federation of Teachers….

Divide and Conquer… Governor Ron DeSantis is once again using his authoritarian control over our Teachers Union…

Delaney Johnston January 23, 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday unveiled a series of proposals aimed at school boards and teachers’ unions, the latest salvo in his battles over education policy in the state.

At an event in Jacksonville, DeSantis unveiled what he called a “Teachers Bill of Rights,” which would give teachers the green light to stand up to their school boards if they felt their policies violated state law.

He also proposed banning teachers’ unions from automatically deducting dues from paychecks, imposing stricter term limits on school board members, and amending the state constitution to allow school board candidates to reveal their political parties in the now bipartisan races.

DeSantis said he wants an additional $200 million for the special fund created to increase teachers’ salaries, bringing the total for teachers’ salaries in his recommended budget for next year to $1 billion.

A total of $3 billion has been spent on salaries over the past three years, he said.

Much of that money, however, went to raising starting salaries for new teachers, so the state still ranked 48th for average public school teacher salaries last year, according to the National Education Association, one place lower than when DeSantis took office in the year 2019

The state also had 5,300 vacant teaching positions this month, more than double the number two years ago, according to the state teachers’ union.

DeSantis’ proposals to the school boards came after he got involved on an unprecedented scale in local board races for governor and promoted conservative candidates across the state. That included Orange County, where Moms for Liberty member Alicia Farrant won a seat on the board.

“What we’ve seen over the years is that you have … counties in Southwest Florida that voted for me by about 40 points, and yet they vote people into school boards that’s like a completely opposite philosophy,” DeSantis said. “…And sometimes it’s hard not to know because you have all these names on one ballot.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, wrote on Twitter that eight-year term limits on school board members instead of the current 12 and partisan elections aim to “essentially get rid of current members over time and improve public education partisan.” This goes way deeper than just culture wars — this is an educational power grab.”

The new proposals would have to be approved by the legislature or, in the case of a constitutional amendment, by state voters by referendum.

They come just days after DeSantis and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz made national headlines by banning an AP African American Studies course in the state and announcing plans for the state to fund all parents who send their children to voucher schools, regardless of income want to send.

His proposal on teachers’ rights is modeled after the Parents Bill of Rights, which allowed parents to ignore COVID restrictions in schools. DeSantis said the state will “protect” teachers from their boards or unions.

“[If] A teacher must either obey state law or listen to a school board or school union or administrator telling them to break state law. If they comply with state laws, they are protected,” DeSantis said. “…And it doesn’t matter if a school board or a superintendent disagrees.”

It could potentially affect teachers who squabble with their school boards over the interpretation of issues ranging from the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law to the “Stop WOKE” law banning critical race theory, both of which are broad.

The educators and board members speaking at the event spoke out against their boards’ vaccination mandates and other anti-COVID measures.

“At my current charter school, I am free to choose whether or not to wear a mask, and ‘social distancing’ and quarantining healthy children due to proximity are foreign words,” said Leah Hannigan, a former public school teacher in Duval.

Charlotte Joyce, a member of the Duval School Board, said: “During the pandemic we have seen teacher unions push for mask requirements and vaccinations. Because of our amazing governor, he just put an end to it and said, ‘We’re not going to have that in the state of Florida.’”

DeSantis’ proposal to end the automatic deduction of union dues also targeted teachers’ unions, which he felt had too much power.

“That’s your choice,” DeSantis said of paying membership dues, a critical funding source for unions. “If you want to do it, send money, that’s fine. But automatically deducted when you sign a power of attorney form? They don’t even tell you how much is deducted.”

He added that union officials “should not earn more than the highest-paid teacher. You have these people making huge sums of money, and the teachers make half of that amount. how is that fair How is that something that makes sense?”

However, he did not say if he would attempt to pass legislation mandating it.

Diaz continued to attack teachers’ unions after the event, writing on Twitter that unions are “standing in the way of teachers getting the raises they deserve.”

A spokeswoman for the Florida Education Association. the national teachers’ union, did not return a request for comment…


Retired elementary public school teacher; all thirty-eight years in Florida... Now spending my time advocating for our children, and their right to strong public school education...With an appreciation for the arts and the beauty in each day…

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