Teachers to protest in Pembroke Pines, Cooper City Thursday
From the Broward Teacher’s Union:
Broward school employees, including their charter school colleagues, plan several protests on Thursday afternoon in Pembroke Pines and Cooper City as the deadline nears for Governor Charlie Crist to sign or veto Senate Bill 6 / House Bill 7189. Union leaders anticipate Governor Crist will either sign or veto the legislation by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 16.
BTU President Pat Santeramo announced, in an unprecedented show of support for their traditional public school colleagues, for the first time in South Florida since the controversy over the legislature’s controversial school reform began, Charter School teachers represented by Broward Teachers Union in Pembroke Pines will conduct several street protests after the official school day at five worksites throughout the City of Pembroke Pines. At the same time, teachers will conduct a street protest at Cooper City High School where nearly 1,000 students walked out of classes on Friday.
“Today’s protests are several of numerous community outreach activities conducted by union members and public school employees,” Santeramo said. “Our focus throughout these difficult weeks has been to reach out to the community and conduct our activities where voters and taxpayers live.”
Along with protests taking place in front of all five of the City of Pembroke Pines charter school campuses, teachers, parents and students will conduct a never before heard of charter school protest on public property in front of Pembroke Pines Charter High School at 2:30 p.m. at 17189 Sheridan Street in Pembroke Pines. Teachers as well as their supporters will also protest, again on public property, in front of the Pembroke Pines – Florida State University Charter Elementary school at 3:30 p.m. at 601 SW 172nd Ave. in Pembroke Pines.
At the same time, teachers, parents and students at Cooper City High School will conduct a protest from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. on public property in front of the school starting at 9401 Stirling Road in Cooper City. Cooper City High was the site of one of the largest student walkouts in the state during the ongoing legislative controversy.
Santeramo said Thursday’s protests in Cooper City and Pembroke Pines are only several examples of the community based “street protests” that the union has supported in the last several weeks. While the union is best known for large protests attracting up to 2,000 participants in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the union is focusing on smaller activities in local communities. The union has also supported similar protests in Coral Springs and Tamarac as well as a march focusing on saving the arts in Fort Lauderdale.
“We have carefully monitored the situation in Broward and have urged members to take their message to local communities in completely legal ways. Certainly, we will never criticize the choices of individual teachers, but as an organization, we want to reach out and form partnerships with parents and other community members now and in the coming months,” Santeramo said.
In addition to sending teams of teachers and union members to Tallahassee during the legislative session to meet in person with legislators and testify in hearings, BTU members have made hundreds of telephone calls to the office of the Florida Speaker of the House and to Governor Charlie Crist’s office. They have sent thousands more e-mail messages, which unlike earlier union e-mail campaigns, involved original messages written by each sender. At one point, the telephone lines and voice mail boxes of the governor’s office were so overwhelmed that Broward teachers began calling the governor’s senate campaign headquarters.
Last week, the union sponsored “Black Friday” during which school employees and, reportedly, even many administrators wore black apparel to school. Nearly all worksites in Broward schools reported employees wearing black to work as a show of protest concerning what many describe as the most draconian public school legislation since the 1960s.
Union leaders notified all 14,000 of its members on Thursday to prepare to wear black again on Friday, April 16 if the governor signs Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 7189 into law. Although public schools employees universally hope the governor will not sign the legislation, union leaders intend to support legal action because they believe the proposed law violates the State Constitution’s Article 1, Section 6 which protects employees rights to bargain collectively; Article 1, Section 10 that prevents laws from impairing the obligation of contracts; and Article 9, Section 4 which provides locally elected school boards with the right to govern.
This week, the union launched the largest community outreach and relations program in its history. While the focus of “Smart Solutions 4 Broward Kids” is offering ways to prevent cuts to the arts, music and physical education programming as well as library media and counseling positions, union leaders believe the lack of school funding and resulting possible budget cuts cannot be separated from the proposed state legislation and legislature’s tradition of funding the state’s nearly last when compared to all other public school systems in the nation.
“Our schools must not become testing factories for students and professional sweatshops for our county’s teachers,” Santeramo said.
The following is a only a sample of the activities of Broward union members and school employees during this legislative session:
* BTU Newsletter Update Legislative Session Preview
* Four (4) BTU Mass E-Mail Pieces Sent to All Members
* Union Steward Meeting with State FEA & National AFT Presidents
* One of Two Staff and Member Delegations Sent to Tallahassee for a Week
* Legislative Action Mass E-Mail Campaign (All Florida Legislators)
* BTU Staff & Member Meetings with Broward Legislative Delegation Members
* All Broward Legislative Delegation Contact Info Sent via E-mail to All Members Three Times
* All Members Urged Write Original, Individual E-Mail Messages to Legislators via Mass E-mail (Three Times)
* Senate Bill 6 Talking Points Distributed to All Members (Twice)
* Changes to FRS Talking Points Distributed to All Members (Twice)
* Talking Points Posted Online for Members to Download and Print
* Union Develops Comprehensive Legislative Web Page with Updates Posted Online One to Two Times per Week
* Facebook Community Outreach Page Developed with nearly 2,000 new “friends” So Far
* Supported “Save the Arts” Parent and Employee Rally in Fort Lauderdale
* Supported Legislation Protest in Coral Springs
* Sponsored Legislative Protest Attracting 600 Employees in Tamarac
* Sponsored “Black Friday” in which Thousands of Broward School Employees Participated
* Sponsored Parent Leafleting Activity of Parents at 52 Broward Schools in which 10,000 Legislation Flyers Passed Out to Parents and Community Members
* Launched Largest Community Outreach Campaign in the History of the Broward Teachers Union
* Supporting Legislation Protests in Cooper City and Pembroke Pines
* Sponsoring Additional “Black Friday” School-Based Activity
* Sponsoring “Smart Solutions” Street Protest in Plantation
* Speaker of the House Call In Activity
BTU & FEA has:
* Conducted live phone banking across the state with patch-thru so members could leave messages for their legislators.
* Electronic billboard messages in targeted areas – especially in the area where Sen. Pres. Atwater lives.
* Radio spots in targeted areas
* TV spots in targeted areas
* Newspaper ads in targeted areas
* Letters to the editor by members all over the state
* Op-Eds all over the state
* Intensive lobbying in Tallahassee and in the districts
* Providing public testimony at every meeting the in which the bills have been heard
- Pembroke Pines, teachers union agree on contract
- Broward teachers taking to the streets in protest again
- Teachers’ union planning loud protest tonight at school board
- School board ethics panel holding final public hearing in March at Cooper City High
- A sea of red protests school boundary changes in Cooper City
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