Educating from the Heart — the Florida Education Association's monthly podcast — is your source for lively discussion from educators, parents and students on the issues that matter most to public education in Florida. Each episode you will hear the struggles and the successes in our schools directly from rank-and-file educators as well as local union leaders from around the state.
Episode 5: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Read the transcript from Episode 5Florida’s pension plan could disappear under a proposed measure being considered during the 2021 session. Lawmakers are looking to close the ‘Defined Benefit’ option of the Florida Retirement System (FRS) to all new hires beginning July 2022. The FRS is currently funded at 82%, which means the program would only pay out 82 cents on each benefit dollar it owes to its retirees. The FRS remains one of the top performers in the nation.This isn’t the first attempt to modify portions of the FRS. You’ll hear in the discussion grave concerns the change could have a devastating impact on the state economy and all Floridians. Some educators looking to retiree are asking why state leaders choose this time to force the change. The response from current retirees: The legislature is taking advantage of the pandemic to destroy the lives of hard working Floridians who rely on their retirement for survival.Guests* Patrick Strong, Okaloosa Education Staff Professionals President; EBD paraprofessional currently planning for retirement* Janice Poirier, FEA-Retired President; Retired teacher, who retired following 33 years* Ron Pollard, Orange Education Support Professionals, President; Custodian; retiree who returned to work* Yale Olenick, FEA Legislative SpecialistShow Resources* Actuarial analysis of Senate Concepts (PDF)* Florida’s public pension plan works just fine. But lawmakers need to fully fund it. (Miami Herald, Op-Ed)* SB 84 info on FEAweb.org* Top 100 Largest State Pension Plans (Florida ranks 18 out of 100)* State Fiscal Stability Rankings (Florida ranks 8th)
Let's Get Ready to Bubble?
You will not want to miss this month’s podcast where three powerful education advocates, including UTD President Karla Matz, sit down to discuss this year’s standardized tests, whether there should be any high-stakes consequences and if students and parents should just opt out of the state testing altogether
Annual Contract Dilemma & A Shot in the Arm
Welcome back to Educating from the Heart. Episode 3 has two segments:* Annual Contract Dilemma* A Shot in the Arm Read the transcript from Episode 3Annual Contract DilemmaIt was the first bill signed into law by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 shortly after assuming office. The Student Success Act altered several aspects of teaching, including removing the ability for a newly hired teacher in Florida to be awarded a renewable multi-year employment agreement by a county school district. Currently, a teacher is placed on an annual contract after completing one year of probationary employment with an evaluation that is satisfactory or above. Each annual contract teacher can have their contract non-renewed at the end of the school year without cause and regardless of how well they perform.Prior to the law, educators worked three years to achieve a non-probationary status and would then become eligible for a multi-year employment agreement. Lawmakers have maintained that annual contracts help school districts identify and remove bad teachers and attract and retain quality teachers. But since the inception of annual contracts, Florida school districts have been left struggling with escalating staff shortages and a culture of trepidation.Segment Guests* An annual contract teacher in Florida who asked to remain anonymous* Kevin Daly, former ESE teacher and president of the Teachers Association of Lee County* Dr. Angela Pruitt, Lee County Schools, Human Resources* Victoria Smith, high school geometry teacher and president of the Citrus County Education AssociationSegment Resources* Annual Contracts: An Attack on Teacher Professionalism (FEA Frontline blog)* As Teacher Morale Hits a New Low, Schools Look for Ways to Give Breaks, Restoration (EdWeek, Jan. 6, 2021)* Teachers blindsided after being let go at end of school year, union says (St. Augustine Record, June 1, 2019)* How Due Process Protects Teachers and Students (PDF, 639 KB; American Educator, Summer 2015)* Bad Policy and Low Pay: How Florida is Undermining Student Success (FEA Frontline blog)
A Shot in the ArmFlorida schools entered the second semester with local districts urging parents to return their students to in-person learning. As the Covid-19 positivity rate continues to climb and school buildings and classrooms overflow, Florida educators are questioning when they’ll be prioritized to receive their shot in the arm. Gov. DeSantis has ignored the CDC guidelines for vaccine distribution by not including teachers with other frontline workers in the initial rollout.Florida educators age 65 and older are eligible to receive an inoculation, but long lines and limited supplies have made it difficult for them, even those with serious medical conditions, to obtain their shot. The situation has left many teachers and school support professionals anxious, weary and frustrated over lack of protection.The FEA, school district leaders,
How would you feel about working a job for 10 -15 years and a new employee without comparable experience is hired to work the same job at your current salary? Florida’s experienced teachers find themselves in just that predicament.
HB 641, also known as the Teacher Salary Allocation — or TSA — was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2020. The law was purportedly established to recruit and retain newly hired teachers by providing $500 million for local school districts to increase the starting salary of new teachers — some of which were as low as $38,000 — to $47,500. The TSA designated 20% of the funds to be used to provide a raise for experienced teachers, who compose the larger share of instructional staff. But the effort to distribute the funds has generated confusion and frustration from teachers who say the state’s pay plan creates huge inequities, leaving some teachers feeling undervalued.
The Governor has repeated his desire to continue funding the TSA, but at what level?
Listen to local educators from three Florida school districts as they share the pros and cons of the TSA and the actions they think state legislators need to take to make all teachers whole.
Episode 1: Covid Conundrum
The global pandemic has impacted all aspects of life but perhaps none more so than the teaching and learning. In our inaugural episode, co-hosts Tina Dunbar and Luke Flynt sit down with a Cristal Atlas, a teacher from Broward County and Alachua County school bus driver Tarfanisha Phillips. Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union (BTU), and Carmen Ward, president of the Alachua County Education Association (ACEA), join the conversation as well.
You’ll hear firsthand how educators are working against all odds to keep students safe and healthy while also providing the best education possible. All that, and more as we tackle how to grapple with this Covid Conundrum.
In This Episode:
“People have a right to know. They should have a choice to come back to work or go get tested. Or if they really had close contact to be quarantined. It's, it's not fair to everyone else. And how about the parents? Don't they have a right to know that the child in her class tested positive and their child was next to them.” — BTU President Anna Fusco
“I'm exhausted. I'm tired. I don't sleep through the night because I'm worried about what's going to happen the next day or what I'm going to do. What's going to happen to my children. What's going to happen to my mother-in-law. What can happen to my husband? We each have our own health issues.” — Cristal Atlas, teacher
“Nobody tells us anything. We have to find out either from the person that transportation that was positive or, you know, gossip, or, you know, just. Other people, the news, I found out, uh, several cases for me, the news, and I'm like, Hey, wait, I transported them to the football game. If the whole JV and varsity and the coaches are out. What about the bus driver that took them to the game? You understand what I’m saying.. Uh, I'm, I'm always on pins and needles. I'm scared. I'm always stressed out about going to work and it's never, ever been like this.” — Tarfanisha Phillips, bus driver
“We've lost many, many employees too, to this pandemic. Because they have in their own safety over there, their jobs, and we've lost many educators from teachers to support staff, to bus drivers. Many people have stepped away from there, from their career.” — ACEA President Carmen Ward
Trailer: Educating From the Heart
Educating from the Heart, the Florida Education Association's monthly podcast, is your source for lively discussion from educators, parents and students on the issues that matter most to public education in Florida. Each episode you will hear the struggles and the successes in our schools directly from rank-and-file educators as well as local union leaders from around the state.
Learned so much!