Ken Previti is a retired Illinois teacher and activist living in Florida. He sent this response to a recent story I posted.
In Florida, which is a right-to-work state, teacher unions are nearly meaningless, especially on the Space Coast which is Brevard County. There is a general dislike of unions and union members, in particular teacher unions and teachers who are pro-union.
It’s a Southern thing. Most of the teachers in Brevard County are registered Republicans. (Florida is a closed-primary state.) The county went strongly for Trump.)
Because they see no future for unions or for their own careers as educators, they willingly go along with scripted online lessons and testing. “Just do what you are told” is a mantra spoken about teachers and about what students should do. Since there is no attempt at real union leadership, there is no belief in teaching as a career. “Serving the needs of students” is perceived as “job training” for students – online instruction has often become more preferable than human to human education and the advancement of critical thinking skills.
Non-union adjunct teachers form the core of Eastern Florida State College, which is two miles from my home, and serve the largest department (that used to be called Engineering), Technology and Manufacturing. The half page newspaper and magazine ads are titled “Get Trained Today.”
Temp teachers in temp jobs train students for jobs. Education? The teaching profession? Union leadership for professionals? Critical thinking skills that allow people to adapt and grow as job markets change? These are non-existent.
Could decent unions with actual leaders help change and improve this situation?
Brevard County schools from pre-school through college cannot know and will not know.
The NEA in Brevard County, Florida collects dues. Period.