Friday, April 20, 2018

Florida Virtual School teachers seek to unionize

After teaching middle school science at Florida Virtual School for nine years, Lauren Masino says one thing has become clear: FLVS teachers need to organize.

"The teachers are petrified to support a union, but we need it so badly," Masino told the Gradebook. "Things couldn't be any worse for us."

She said the school, which currently contracts with each teacher individually, expects educators to be available 60 hours a week for work.

"If we don't we get poor scores on our surveys," she said. "We have no work-life balance."

The school's technology is problematic, with the software to log student calls so slow it adds to teachers' work hours, she said. In addition, Masino said, upward mobility in the school is lacking, class sizes are not controlled, and morale is low, among other issues.

"The purpose of a union would be to create solidarity and a collective voice" for the faculty, who work across the state and nation, she said.

She has been in consultation with the Florida Education Association and the Public Employees Relation Commission, and hopes to begin collecting interest cards for a possible certification before the end of the year, as noted late Tuesday on the group's Facebook page.

FLVS spokeswoman Tania Clow said via email that the school, which operates as a public district and receives state per-student funding, has not been in any talks with union organizers.

Jodi Marshall, the school's president and CEO, "received one initial contact from a teacher stating she was attempting to form a union," Clow said. "FLVS does not support the need for a union."

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