Monday, March 07, 2011

Paul Moore: Eye-witness account from Florida?

Dear Brother and Sisters, care for an eye-witness account from Florida?

There was indeed a massive mobilization of teachers and their allies. Brother Cody accurately describes it as, "Florida teachers showed us last year how to fight this trend. They made a powerful alliance with parents, and put immense pressure on their political leaders to stop Senate Bill 6." This pressure included a massive demonstration in Tallahassee, volumes of testimony before committees of the Legislature, visits to the Legislator's home offices, a well-funded lobbying campaign run through the Florida Education Association, a mountain of e-mail and other communications to the lawmakers, the creation by parents of powerful YouTube videos that went viral on the Internet, and the wearing of red T-shirts in public schools around the State.

And SB6 sailed through both chambers of the Florida Legislature. Not a vote was changed!

As the legislation worked its way to the governor's office, Charlie Crist made nothing but supportive statements. Never was heard a discouraging word from Crist on SB6.

Then something happened that changed everything. The sleeping giant stirred.

I’m not at liberty to reveal the teacher’s name, but in Miami-Dade County, the largest district in Florida and the fourth largest in the country, a former US Army Ranger and conservative Republican began calling and texting his long list of contacts with a message. “You have a doctor’s appointment Monday” went the text and Monday referred to April 12, 2010.

Administration of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) got wind of the proposed action and began warning teachers of the dangers of it. Staffers for the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) fanned out across the District to instill the fear of job loss and even criminal prosecution in the membership. Word began to spread statewide and so the Florida Education Association (FEA) reminded all teachers that a sickout was a violation of law. Teachers should just keep on wearing their red shirts and e-mailing Gov. Crist and even if SB6 did become law teachers would still have the right to beg for mercy.

But on the appointed Monday 6,300 of Miami-Dade’s 21,260 teachers called in sick. The teachers of Miami-Dade County shutdown the District’s public schools with an act of civil disobedience! Lo and behold that next Friday, Gov. Charlie Crist did an about face and vetoed SB6. The FEA and UTD bent over backwards to give all the credit to Crist. Teachers were urged to write “thank you notes” to the governor. Our red clothing and e-mails had carried the day.

Very few thank you notes went to the now retired Gov. Crist from Miami-Dade. Teachers there knew better. We had done it! We had the power! When we moved together, nothing could stop us! And they knew it too! Not a single teacher among the 6,300 MDCPS teachers from the illegal strike was fired or disciplined in any form or fashion. Administrators, union bureaucrats, teachers, parents and students just celebrated the defeat of SB6 and President Obama’s friend Jeb Bush.

Much the same dynamic is playing itself out on a larger scale in Wisconsin today. The teachers united, the irresistible force, is flexing its muscle. Teachers shut down schools in Madison and several other districts for three days when Gov. Walker’s machinations became clear. He even threatened them with the National Guard but they are unbowed. They have Walker stopped cold.

But there are those who desperately try to give credit to 14 Democrats because their power is the secret that must be kept from teachers around the country if the public schools are to be destroyed.

Paul A. Moore
Carol City High School
Miami, Florida

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