The Florida Education Association, a statewide teacher union representing more than 150,000 K-12 and higher education members, has recommended Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for governor in 2022.
Local educator unions across the state also showed support for Crist, a former Republican governor, Attorney General and, notably, the state’s former Education Commissioner in Florida.
“Where is the leader of Florida? The current governor has gone around the state vilifying teachers and staff…We need a governor who will support the teachers and staff in our public schools, said Andrew Spar, president of FEA, at a news conference Tuesday in Miami.
Crist is running in the August primary against several opponents, including the Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and State Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami-Dade.
“You see in 2010, Congressman Crist was Governor Crist and there was barely a teacher shortage in the state of Florida,” Spar said during the press event. “Now, as I said before, it is one of the worst we’ve ever seen.”
In a Crist campaign news release Tuesday, Spar also said in a statement:
“There is no question, Charlie Crist will be the best governor for Florida’s students. He is genuinely committed to ensuring that every child gets the education that he or she deserves and needs, no matter that child’s race, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code or ability,” Spar said. “Certain politicians seek to sow division by pushing false narratives regarding public schools, but parents and educators can trust Crist to address the real problems that affect kids every day, such as Florida’s massive shortage of teachers and support staff. Crist will keep politics out of our classrooms and keep teachers and staff working in our schools.”
As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, the state has made headway in boosting public school teachers’ starting salaries, but national, statewide, and local teacher unions have noted that Florida has made little progress toward raising the overall average teacher salary.
Citing a reason for endorsing Crist over Fried, Spar told the Florida Phoenix that the union “wanted someone who has been there and done it,” he said. “This was a tough decision. We respect Nikki Fried,” Spar said in a phone conversation with the Phoenix.
Overall, Crist has more experience in public education, Spar said.
“Charlie Crist is someone who has a proven track record for educators. He is going to stand for all educators and support staff,” Spar said on the phone with the Phoenix.
Crist said in a written statement Tuesday:
“I’m incredibly grateful to receive the support of Florida’s teachers as we build a Florida where our educators have the support they need, the pay they deserve, and the safety they, our students, and their parents should be able to count on. Floridians deserve a governor who will always stand with our students and teachers, who works to keep partisan politics out of the classroom. As a former statewide Commissioner of Education and public-school kid, I understand how critical good public schools are for our future.”
–Isaac Morgan, Florida Phoenix