Orange County teachers plan protests over working conditions, low morale

Educators say they're forced to teach for state tests

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Members of the Orange County Teacher's Union say that district-wide, teachers are feeling overworked and disrespected.

In turn, they're staging a one-week protest named the "Week of Action" where they won't work past contractually obligated hours. Union President Wendy Doromal said the move is meant to get the attention of administrators.

"Because of working conditions and feeling not appreciated, not respected, they feel their dignity has been lost and their autonomy has been taken away," Doromal said.

Doromal said teachers are now forced to teach for state tests, and not for the love of learning. She also says morale is suffering in Orange County Schools because of alleged "walls of shame" comparing students' classroom scores.

Outside of the classroom, Doromal said teachers are working 20 hours overtime on average, and that time meant for planning lessons has now been taken over by mandatory meetings. She attributed low teacher wages and undesirable conditions for turnover in Florida schools and said that many teachers have relocated to other states.

"Teachers really say they want to teach, they want to be trusted to be the experts and professionals that they are, and to bring joy back to the classroom," Doromal said.

The "Week of Action" will not only include working "protests." Teachers plan to also hold a rally where they're asking for parent and teacher support before Tuesday's school board meeting.

On Wednesday parents and organizations are asked to cheer for teachers as they enter and leave campuses in a "Show your Love for Public Education" campaign.

Representatives from Orange County Public Schools released a statement about the protest Monday afternoon.

"OCPS continues to make teacher pay a priority in all budget considerations. While teachers are professionals and not hourly employees, we are hopeful that the legislature will provide increased state funding that recognizes the hard work of our dedicated teachers," the statement read.