Pinellas, Pasco teachers plan protests for Friday
They're upset about plans to change their evaluations, pay and contracts. They're angry at proposals to alter their pensions and their benefits. Their organizations have come under attack.
"The 2011 Legislative Session is shaping up to be an all-out assault on our children, parents and teachers," Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president Kim Black said in a release.
So Florida teachers planning to make some noise about it as the Legislature heads toward its 2011 session.
Urging supporters to wear red, "as educators are seeing RED over proposed legislation and further cuts to our public schools," the PCTA and the United School Employees of Pasco plan to protest all the action from 4-6 p.m. Friday.
Pinellas teachers will gather at three prominent intersections -- N. McMullen Booth Rd. at State Road 580 in Clearwater, Ulmerton Road at 66th Street in Largo and Tyrone Blvd. at 66th Street in St. Petersburg. Pasco teachers plan to rally outside the district offices of Sen. Mike Fasano, 8217 Massachusetts Avenue, New Port Richey; Rep. Will Weatherford, 28963 SR 54, Wesley Chapel; and Rep. John Legg, 10014 Grove Drive, Port Richey.
They're not alone. Rallies also are planned Friday by teachers in Polk, Palm Beach, Columbia and Collier counties. Going into the weekend, protests are scheduled in Miami-Dade and St. Lucie counties. Then on Tuesday comes the Awake the State rallies in several locations including Clearwater and Tampa's Gaslight Park.
"It would be nice if (lawmakers) actually listen to the voters," said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, which is supporting the efforts. "Maybe they will change their minds."
He wouldn't predict massive outpourings like those occurring in the midwest. But he wouldn't rule them out, either.
"Last year everybody was surprised by the reaction to Senate Bill 6," Pudlow said. "We may surprise again."