All across the Sunshine State, education professionals and their supporters just closed out National Teacher Appreciation Week. During this time, public education was celebrated by students and parents alike. Many people wore #REDforED to stand in solidarity with teachers in other states that have accomplished change by banding together, as well as to highlight the similar challenges we face here in Florida.
Many people also took to social media to share their support and to say thanks to those who work with our children on a daily basis. A few even used this platform and time to illustrate important points to our elected officials about the starvation budgets that have been served up during the tenure of Governor Rick Scott. These are a few of my contributions, for instance, that I used to help spread awareness and build momentum as we move forward to this year’s election cycle:
Clearly one of the most effective forms of demonstration that has helped along the situations faced by states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, and Arizona was marching on the capitol. What if we could do this here in Florida? Is it time for a little rally in Tally? It certainly has a nice ring to it and could easily be used as a hashtag to build further momentum during the summer and beyond. There are even two dates that would be perfect for taking this simple, effective action:
Monday, September 17th, 2018, which is U.S. Constitution Day, an idea that was originally proposed by retired educator and all-star public education advocate, Donna Yates Mace. Teachers from central to north Florida could easily drive up Sunday during the day, stay over night, march on / hold a rally in the capitol the next day, and then return home that evening. This would be a perfect time to celebrate democracy and demonstrate civic engagement to our students and communities (something the Legislature clearly thinks we don’t teach based on attempted legislation and CRC amendments). Furthermore, considering the primaries will be over by this point, it will send a strong message about voting for pro-public education candidates and hopefully all candidates will be addressing the need for increased funding for our students and schools.
And what better way to celebrate the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself than by marching / rallying again on Monday, January 21st, 2019, only a couple of weeks after committee work begins for the upcoming legislative session. Granted there probably won’t be any activity that day, but legislators will be there or returning for work on Tuesday. But if we can get tens of thousands of teachers to show up and get high-profile media coverage of the event, it would definitely put the Florida Legislature on notice.
We educators will no longer be silent about the damage being done by the gross lack of funding for our public education system. As MLK himself reminds us all: the time is always right to do what is right. The time is now. The fight is here. We can take action that doesn’t require us to strike yet still be “highly effective.” Just close your eyes and imagine it…a sea of red set out to #RallyInTally.
January is too late!
January would be the second rally to coincide with the beginning of the new / 2019 legislative session. The one in September would happen while the legislators begin returning for committee work.
While I will admit these dates are not ideal in terms of all of the actions taking place now, it would seem as if Governor Scott nor the Florida Legislature has any intent or political will to take up this issue with a special session.
Now, if a special session were to materialize suddenly for ANY reason (gambling, for instance), then I think teachers should head for Tallahassee as soon as possible to take a stand for public education.
Wouldn’t the one is September be on a school day? If we all went to that, wouldnt that be looked at as a strike??
I doubt nearly 200,000 educators would show up. I think if even 10% of all the teachers (about 20K) in the state did so for one day it wouldn’t be considered a strike. But who knows? Guess we’ll have to wait and see if we can get some leaders together to organize something formal. The second rally date that falls on MLK day wouldn’t be an issue, because everyone is off. Now that would be amazing if we can get a HUGE number to the capitol on that day.