‘This is personal:’ Teachers pack buses to Tallahassee to rally for higher pay

Thousands of Florida teachers expected at rally ahead of legislative session

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Thousands of teachers across Florida are headed to Tallahassee to attend a rally for higher pay.

Hundreds of teachers and supporters from across Central Florida boarded buses on Monday to travel to Florida’s capital ahead of the new legislative session which begins on Tuesday.

“The salary for teachers is not sustainable, and we need to make sure that our teachers are not having to work second and third jobs just to make ends meet,” said Vanessa Skipper, vice president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers. “I want our legislators to understand that we’re not a bunch of greedy teachers up there asking for money, we’re asking for an investment in our students.”

Skipper, who works for a teacher's union in Brevard County, knows she's not alone.

“When I was in the classroom, I was driving for Uber just to make my car payment. I have friends who give blood just to make money,” Skipper said.

In Brevard County, about 350 teachers and supporters of public education packed seven buses to Tallahassee for Monday’s 1:30 p.m. education rally. They want more pay for teachers and more funding for public schools.

Officials with Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Orange county school districts told News 6 they’re aware of Monday’s education rally in Tallahassee and some of their teachers may attend.

Last year, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis said he planned on raising the salary for starting teacher pay from $40,000 per year to $47,500. That would bump Florida from 26th in the country to second. Some unions, though, have been critical of the idea, saying all teachers deserve the extra money, not just those starting out.

“Teachers that have been teaching for 10 years that might make what a starting teacher is making, what about their ten years experience? That’s a slap in the face to those teachers," Castle Creek Elementary school teacher Inez Hoffman-Brunell said.

Union Park Middle School teacher Erika Rosenbusch, who has been teaching for 27 years, said in the past 10 years her salary has increased by just $1,000.

“Teachers have got to be able to make a living wage," Rosenbusch said. "We’ve got to be able to have insurance to protect us so we can be in the classroom teaching our kids.”

Many school districts said they will use substitute teachers or staff from the superintendent’s office to cover for teachers who miss class on Monday.

Rosenbusch said she used a personal day to attend the rally, “because this is personal.”

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