Teachers ‘walk-in’ to make funding public education a priority

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Children advocate for more public education funds during the Collier County 'walk-in'. (Credit: WINK News)
Children advocate for more public education funds during the Collier County ‘walk-in’. (Credit: WINK News)

A sea of red all across Florida as thousands of teachers are protesting Wednesday. The educators are holding a walk-in, including in Southwest Florida. They said our lawmakers need to realize the dire situation some of these teachers face because of their low wages.

It is one thing to say there is a problem. It is another to do something about it.

Some Collier County school teachers joined with thousands more in a statewide “walk-in.” It is a public push to make it clear they want Florida lawmakers to make public education a priority.

Holding in tears, Christina Svec told WINK News helping kids is why she became an educator.

“Nothing gets me more excited than when I see a child learn something new,” said Svec, who teaches at Laurel Oak Elementary School, “and just get more confident in who they are as a person as their developing into this young person.”

For many years, Svec said she spent her own money to provide for her students at Laurel Oak Elementary.

Jen Mitchell, a Collier County school board member for District 3, said that is not right.

“Collier County teachers are paid second highest in the state and they start at $42,000 a year,” Mitchell said. “That should tell you that as a state we are not paid nearly enough.”

The Florida House budget proposal calls for $600 million to allocate for education the next school year. The Senate is much larger, proposing for $1.1 billion, with $600 million earmarked for teacher salary increases or other school district needs.

The Florida Education Association said Florida ranks 42nd out of 50 in total education spending per student. Additionally, Florida ranks 46th in teacher salaries.

The low pay may be impeding efforts the School District of Collier County is having finding hundreds of more teachers for the upcoming school year.

“We have positions to fill,” Svec said. “We have a hard time getting guest teachers. These are all the consequences of not funding our future.”

The Florida Education Association set up a petition to call for legislatures and the governor to increase state funding by $743 per student.

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