"It's not about money -- it's about lack of transparency."
That was the message Rosa Chacon, an AP Government and Macroeconomics teacher at Hialeah Senior High School, had for state legislators at a rally Monday in Westchester's Tropical Park, where hundreds of teachers protested a bill overhauling teacher pay and tenure. Thousands of teachers also took a personal day Monday to oppose the legislation.
The teachers urged Gov. Charlie Crist to
veto the bill, SB 6/HB 7189, and repeatedly chanted -- to Crist,
legislators, school board members and politicians in general -- that
they would "remember in November." They also held signs and painted the
windows of their cars with the number to Crist's office (850-488-4441, for those who are wondering).
Deborah Ward, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Kenwood K-8 Center in Kendall, said she is a registered Republican who supported Crist in the past. But she said she wrote the governor warning that she would reconsider her support if he doesn't veto a bill she considers short on details and punitive for veteran teachers.
"I believe in being accountable," Ward said. "I'm not worried about being judged; I'm good at what I do, and I love it.
"But I've got 22 years of experience," she added. "Now they tell me that means nothing? You've got to be kidding me.
Her friend and fellow fifth-grade math and science teacher at Kenwood, Vivian Herrera, is working on a master's degree in curriculum development from Nova Southeastern University and said, only half joking, "I'm thinking I should be an ultrasound technician. I might make more money.
"Or," she added, "I might just leave Florida."