This weekend about 20 of us had the privilege of representing BFT at the 2017-2018 Florida Education Association Delegate Assembly. This assembly was a very special Delegate Assembly because it commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Florida Teacher Walkout. In 1968, the schools were in horrible shape, class size was out of control, and teacher pay was abysmal; planning periods and duty-free lunch were no existent. Teachers were told time and time again that things would improve; they just needed to be patient. Politicians said to them that they should go along to get along.
However, about 35,000 courageous teachers said that enough was enough. They turned in their resignations and told their districts that they were not returning to work until conditions and funding improved. These brave teachers, including our very own Cecily Cain and Shelia Cootes, risked their careers to better our profession and students’ education. Community members told these heroes that they didn’t care about their students and the real teachers were the ones who didn’t walk out.
History shows that those that sit on the sidelines or go along to get along don’t affect change. History shows that brave teachers like Cecily and Shelia acting in solidarity improve education. After the walkout, funding increased, pay and benefits improved, and collective bargaining became part of the law.
These teachers did not back down in the face of adversity. BFT will do the same. We will continue to fight for better pay and job security.
We will never stop fighting injustice. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.