The Florida Legislative session begins Tuesday. Teachers and their allies held a massive demonstration on Monday in Tallahassee. On MidPoint, we spoke with the president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, Rob Kriete, about education issues.
“We have a sea of people and buses here. The buses are countless, with teachers, educators, educational support professionals, community members. I mean there’s so many people here. It’s amazing!”
SK: Do you have an idea of how many people you’re expecting. Because your rally, it’s called the “Take on Tallahassee Rally for Public Education.” It’s expected to start at 1:30. Do you know how many people will be there?
“We’re expecting about 10,000 people from across the state. And I can tell you right now, it’s looking very promising.”
SK: You came up, I assume, on the bus from Hillsborough (County). How many people and how many teachers from Hillsborough came up on the buses?
“We had just a little over 100 teachers. But we had 4 full buses of people. That includes some of our ESPs and many community members that want to come out to support our cause. Yeah, our educational support professionals.”
SK: Why are you there? Why are you rallying in Tallahassee today?
“Quite honestly, Seán, it’s the fact that you live in a state where we are a top 5 state in revenue, but we are a bottom 5 state in actual funding of public schools. And, quite honestly, we are tired of it. For the past 20 years, funding has been dwindling from public schools. And, we want to stop that right now. And we believe that rallying here, and talking about funding our future, is the most important thing that we can do today.”
SK: There’s some controversy we read about over the weekend over where the (Florida) Department of Education sent an email to the Polk County School Board and said that it’s possible that those teachers who are joining the demonstration up there today are involved in a strike, which would be illegal. What are your thoughts about that idea?
“We’ve been working on this rally for months and months. And we’ve been communicating with our school district, the superintendent and their staff. So, we actually believe all that stuff is hogwash.
“Luckily, in Hillsborough, we’ve had a very good working relationship with our school board, and with the superintendent staff. So, we’ve always been in open communication with what we’ve been doing. And we don’t expect to have that kind of pushback in Hillsborough.”
We also talk about teacher vacancies, Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan for education and class size.
Florida’s teachers got support from at least two Democratic Presidential candidates, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Listen to the full show here:
Later in the show we switched gears and spoke with a human rights activist fom Tampa Bay who is witnessing the situation for migrants and refugees on the U.S. / Mexico border.
Marina Welch is observing the human rights condition for refugees and other migrants on the border in Brownsville, Texas and nearby Matamoros, Mexico.
Here’s our previous interview about her work in Homestead, Florida:
What a Tampa resident saw from outside Homestead detention camp for migrant children
At the beginning of the show we heard from two listeners commenting on the previous program. We heard from Trump administration officials and from some Democratic candidates for President about the U.S. airstrike the killed an Iranian general.