Monday, October 15, 2018

Florida Education Association elects new leadership

Frustrated by three years of failed attempts to fight legislative actions deemed unfriendly to teachers, Florida Education Association members on Friday ousted the group's leadership team in favor of challengers who pledged to "rebuild our power and start winning again."

Fed Ingram, a Miami-Dade union official who had been the group's vice president, publicly broke from the team to challenge one-term president Joanne McCall. Ingram won 64 percent of the vote, as announced just before midnight.

His cabinet will include Andrew Spar of Volusia County as vice president, and Carole Gauronskas of St. Johns County as treasurer.

Their win comes on the heels of several efforts in both the courts and the Legislature to stop the state's moves to change teacher pay and evaluation models, union certification requirements and other related issues.

United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace issued a statement praising the result as a "huge transformation" for the state's largest teacher union, which has played a large role in Florida Democratic politics as well.

"This organization, especially for the last three years in the legislative session, has been reactive instead of proactive. You can't get big wins when you always arrive to the game late," Peace said. "Fed brings a fresh face and new ideas along with a plan to create friends on both sides of the aisle in the legislature. We have to find a way to merge both sides and emphasize the importance of public education. 90% of our students and 90% of our schools make up public education. They should be a priority in the legislature, and public education should be funded appropriately."

Related coverage: It's been a tough few years for Florida teachers. Will a new union leader shake things up? 

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