Florida Education Association Delegate Assembly
October 11-12, 2013
The theme of the DA was TAKE BACK OUR SCHOOLS, OUR FLORIDA, OUR FUTURE and we heard this reverberated throughout the DA.
The meeting began with a passionate address from FEA President, Andy Ford. Some of his comments included: “Our vision statement is to be the united voice for excellence in public education in Florida…The promise of America began with public education…We did not go into public education to test or to make some public corporation wealthy…...Public schools belong to the public. Schools need local control. Learning should be celebrated, not test scores….Common Core is becoming a disappointment because corporations want to make money off the backs for our children…this is OUR time to take back OUR schools…We must invest in ourselves. We must invest time, energy and money.”
Jack Latvala, State Senator from District 20 (Pinellas), told us to expect issues from last year to be introduced again this year such as the Florida Retirement System and Parent Trigger Bill. FRS is good and he pledges to keep changes from being made. But we can expect a more significant battle than before and we need to vote to keep changes from being made. As for Common Core, Senator Latvala said, “When the Tea Party started contacting him to be against it, he decided he was for it.” He reminded us that who is elected depends that laws are passed and what will be done and that we need to make sure that we have Republican friends.
Nan Rich, declared candidate for Governor, said: “Education is the foundation of our country and the pathway from poverty to prosperity… The responsibility of our government is to find sound and reasonable measures to find our children’s progress…testing and accountability measures in Florida are flawed and broken…FCAT is on its way out and the only question is to find what will take its place.”
Guest speakers on Saturday were Governor Bob Graham, Alex Sink and Governor Charlie Crist.
Bob Graham, who was the 38th Governor of Florida, said: “One of the best things about public education is that is has been a place where boys and girls learn to live together and carry together the ideals of a democratic society…Many factors influence a child’s development, not just what happens in the classroom…What will be successful is a well-prepared, well-supported professional educator with a reasonable number of students to educate.” Governor Graham also gave suggestions about what we can do to help reach our goals: elected officials need to be exposed to what is happening in our schools; we need to support and contribute to candidates who are pro-education; we need to elect more women.
Governor Charlie Crist was warmly received by the Assembly. He told us “I love this state and I believe our future is bright…We need to push higher and never settle…The Common Core debate is what is wrong with our politics. It came together in a partisan way. The standards are better than what we have. Testing is not teaching; teachers should not spend all of their time administering tests…We live in the best state in America. It is important that we get it right. We need to get Florida back on track. We are all in this together. Some politicians talk about jobs, but the best way to get a good job is through education.
Alex Sink, previous candidate for Governor, fully supports public education. She said is being missed are critical thinking skills, working together, and a work ethic. “I believe, as a private citizen, that members of FEA have a true opportunity for some big wins for your students, their parents, yourselves, and your profession…The public is tired of teaching to the test…we need standards and we need them to be consistent…We are the teachers. We are in the classroom. We are involved and engaged…Make us responsible for what we can control…Let’s take the offensive and answer the questions. Let’s be strategic.”
As the final gavel went down, your FEA-Retired felt positive about public education and what can and will be done in the future.