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Teacher rallies planned for Friday in Pinellas, Pasco

They're upset about plans to change their evaluations, pay and contracts. They're angry at proposals to alter their pensions and 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 are planning to make some noise 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 Pinellas union and the United School Employees of Pasco plan to protest from 4 to 6 p.m. today.

Pinellas teachers will gather at three intersections — McMullen-Booth Road at State Road 580 in Clearwater, Ulmerton Road at 66th Street in Largo and Tyrone Boulevard at 66th Street in St. Petersburg.

Pasco teachers will gather outside the district offices of Sen. Mike Fasano, 8217 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey; Rep. Will Weatherford, 28963 State Road 54, Wesley Chapel; and Rep. John Legg, 10014 Grove Drive, Port Richey.

Rallies also are planned today 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 events in several locations, including Clearwater and Tampa's Gaslight Park.

"It would be nice if (lawmakers) actually listen to the voters," said Mark Pudlow, a spokesman for the Florida Education Association, which is supporting the efforts. "Maybe they will change their minds."

He wouldn't predict huge outpourings like those occurring in the Midwest, but he also wouldn't rule them out.

"Last year everybody was surprised by the reaction to Senate Bill 6," Pudlow said. "We may surprise again."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Teacher rallies planned for Friday in Pinellas, Pasco 03/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 10:30pm]
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