Crist and teachers unions hold lovefest at St. Pete High
Gov. Charlie Crist joined teachers union leaders today to bask in the glow of Florida's successful Race to the Top bid, saying the $700 million federal grant was the state's reward for choosing compromise over conflict.
"This is a shining example of what we can do if we just work together to do what's right," Crist said at a press conference at his alma mater, St. Petersburg High School.
For Republican-turned-independent Crist, the timing was awfully good. Tuesday's announcement by the U.S. Department of Education allowed Crist to stand side by side with Florida Education Association president Andy Ford just half a day after voters distilled the U.S. Senate race down to Crist, Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic Kendrick Meek.
"God bless Andy Ford and the FEA," Crist said.
Without them, Florida's second Race to the Top application would have failed like the first one, he said.
In the aftermath of his SB 6 veto, Crist let teachers unions and other stakeholders reshape Florida's application, which was among 10 nationwide that won approval. He gave teachers a "voice," said Pinellas teachers union president Kim Black, who attended the press conference along with superintendent Julie Janssen and union executive director Marshall Ogletree.
Crist's leadership "made today possible," Ford said.