Florida’s teacher shortage is easily preventable

From Tallahassee Democrat
Paula Dockery
August 31, 2019

Once again Florida faces a teacher shortage as our public-school students begin the new school year. It’s estimated that the shortage is around 3,500 teachers statewide and affects about 300,000 children, who will have a temporary or substitute teacher — if those can be found. Last year the shortage was about 5,000 teachers, so there is a slight but temporary improvement.

The problem is multi-faceted. New teachers — about 40 percent— are leaving the job after the first five years. The number of college students wanting to become teachers is dwindling. Many experienced teachers are retiring as soon as their pensions kick in.

It doesn’t help that Florida ranks 46th in the nation in teacher pay — an insult to our professional teachers and an embarrassment to us.  Some of Florida’s teachers are going to neighboring states like Georgia to earn a living wage.

Is it any wonder that we have a shortage? The low wage is certainly a major factor but far from the only one.

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Americans’ Approval Of Labor Unions Reaches 16-Year High

[UFF Preface:  As indicated in this new poll, millions of U.S. workers would like to join a union but can’t.  Especially in the private sector, hostile laws and regulations make organizing very difficult.]

From HuffPost
Dave Jamieson
August 28, 2019

[Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks before a crowd of striking educators at Capital High School in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S., February, 19 2019. REUTERS/Lexi Browning]

Membership in labor unions in the U.S. may be on a long, downward slide, but the share of Americans who view unions favorably continues to increase.

Sixty-four percent of people polled by Gallup earlier this month approve of labor unions, one of the highest rates in half a century. Americans have not viewed unions in such a positive light since 2003, when the rate hit 65%.

Gallup has been tracking the public’s feelings about unions since the 1930s. After bottoming out in 2009 at an approval rating of 48% ― the lowest on record ― their favorability has increased steadily over the past decade, as the economy has been on the rise.

Americans now have a more positive view of unions than they generally did in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, though unions still fall short of the marks they hit in the 1950s.

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Union Power in Florida Leads to Mental Health Win for Students

from NEA Today

July 31, 2019

Mary Ellen Flannery

Last summer, Florida Polytechnic University dismissed the only full-time librarian and only mental-health counselor on its campus. Both were active union members who advocated openly for students.

Two days later, Florida Poly professor Christina Drake drove to the state’s higher education board meeting and warned board members of the potential danger to students: “The termination was so abrupt,” she said, “there was no time or ability for the counselor to put into place a continuity of care for her patients, including those for which there is concern for suicide.”

Six weeks later, a student committed suicide.

Then, a few weeks after she spoke up, Florida Poly fired Drake, too.

University administrators may have hoped to silence faculty concerns around student mental health and a “toxic” campus culture, but it’s not easy to silence caring educators, especially those who belong to unions. The United Faculty of Florida (UFF),an affiliate of NEA, stood up for its Florida Poly members, persisting in a year-long pursuit for justice.

Last week, they won. In response to UFF’s dogged legal work, the state labor relations board ruled that Florida Poly had violated state labor laws in firing Drake and the others, and ordered Florida Poly to re-establish the positions of assistant librarian and wellness counselor, which have been vacant since June 2018, and reinstate all three employees with back pay, plus interest.

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Public Universities Work Hard to Make Up for Budget Cuts. But In-State Students May Be Paying the Price.

[Preface: UFF consistently advocates for the state legislature to increase funding for public higher education in order to ensure its affordability for students from all socio-economic backgrounds]

The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 26, 2019

Katherine Mangan

High-achieving but financially needy students who settle for colleges that won’t challenge them may be the victims of “underrecruiting” by public universities that are too focused on drawing in wealthy students from other states.

That’s the contested conclusion of a report released this week by the Joyce Foundation, a policy-research group focused on equity.

The study, led by researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Arizona, finds that public universities trying to make up for cuts in state support are using recruiting practices that are biased against low-income and minority students.

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Florida Polytechnic ordered to rehire laid-off employees who talked union

[Preface: United Faculty of Florida works to protect faculty at its various institutions. One of our most recent chapters is at Florida Polytechnic.]

By Romy Ellenbogen

Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer

July 26, 2019

A state commission determined this week that Florida Polytechnic University administrators unjustly laid off employees because of anti-union bias.

The United Faculty of Florida union members who lost their jobs spoke up about university problems or participated in collective bargaining. Later they were told their positions were being restructured or eliminated entirely.

The Public Employees Relations Commission ruled that Florida Polytechnic needs to rehire three employees let go with back pay and cease from making faculty changes without bargaining with the union, United Faculty of Florida, first. It also said the university couldn’t continue to discourage membership in a union.

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Fla. legislator says gun-free zones are the problem, wants guns on college campuses

[UFF-FAU Preface: Once again, some Florida legislators will try to force Florida’s public universities and colleges to allow guns on campus.  Once again, your faculty union will be leading the opposition to this misguided legislation.]

Florida Phoenix

 Lloyd Dunkelberger

August 13, 2019

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini says one way to protect Floridians from mass shootings would be to eliminate gun-free zones.

In the aftermath of the tragedies in Texas and Ohio, the Lake County Republican has refiled legislation that would let students, faculty and others carry concealed weapons on state university and college campuses.

Sabatini, an officer in the Florida National Guard and a lawyer, says his bill (HB 6001) “eradicates the gun-free zones of college campuses in Florida by allowing concealed-weapon permit holders to carry on campus.”

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UFF-FAU Supports Strong Public Schools

Last week, the NEA sat down with 10 presidential candidates and asked them your questions about how, as president, they would tackle the most pressing issues facing our nation’s public schools, students, and educators.

10 Candidates, 30 questions:

See what the presidential candidates had to say about topics ranging from students of color to food insecurity, school safety, gun violence, and much more.

Throughout the presidential campaign, NEA will ask the candidates the tough questions and put them on record on issues that affect students, educators, and our union.

With so many candidates vying for our nation’s highest office, there can be a lot to keep track of. That’s why NEA is continually updating StrongPublicSchools.org throughout the election.

In solidarity,
Deandre Poole, UFF-FAU President

The Revenge of the Poverty-Stricken College Professors Is Underway in Florida. And It’s Big.

From Splinter

Hamilton Nolan

“Two half-time adjunct jobs do not make a full-time income. Far from it,” Ximena Barrientos says. “I’m lucky that I have my own apartment. I have no idea how people make it work if they have to pay rent.”

We are not sitting on a street corner, or in a welfare office, or in the break room of a fast food restaurant. We are sitting inside a brightly lit science classroom on the third floor of an MC Escher-esque concrete building, with an open breezeway letting in the muggy South Florida air, on the campus of Miami Dade College, one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the United States of America. Barrientos has been teaching here for 15 years. But this is not “her” classroom. She has a PhD, but she does not have a designated classroom. Nor does she have an office. Nor does she have a set schedule, nor tenure, nor healthcare benefits, nor anything that could be described as a decent living wage. She is a full-time adjunct professor: one of thousands of members of the extremely well-educated academic underclass, whose largely unknown sufferings have played just as big a role as student debt in enabling the entire swollen College Industrial Complex to exist.

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Florida leads nation in declining undergraduate enrollment

[UFF Preface: The large decline of numbers reflects the large size of the state. Although Florida has half the population of California, it is behind it in the drop of undergraduate enrollment. Overall, Florida needs more, not less higher education with increased state resources. See population of states here: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/us-states-by-population.html]

May 31, 2019

By Jane King

More than 350,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs in the U.S. for the 2019 spring semester than the previous year, according to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The Sunshine State saw the biggest decrease in enrollment, including all sectors of postsecondary education and both graduate and undergraduate programs. The 5.2% decrease from spring 2018 equaled to almost 50,000 students.

Florida was followed by California, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania with the largest declines in the number of enrolled students.

Compared to the spring 2018 semester, 351,264 fewer people enrolled in undergraduate programs for the spring 2019 semester, representative of a 2.3% drop.  On the flip-side, graduate and professional programs had a 2% increase, equivalent to 54,043 students.

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