Alachua County teachers protest outside of Senator Keith Perry's office
It is an election year, and in what looks like a hotly-contested State Senate race here in North Central Florida, both sides are counting on their core supporters.
On this "National Teacher Appreciation Week" some teachers rallied in protest of one hot-button topic: education funding.
Wednesday afternoon, more than a dozen Gainesville residents, including some teachers, wore red and brought out signs to protest outside of Senator Keith Perry's office.
The protesters say they aren't happy with the education bills the senator has supported.
"I don't think that they value the future of our country and future of Florida. When they don't want to fund education and they do everything they can to hurt public education and that has been from the individual teacher level to the schools, to the students, to the districts, to privatizing,” Karen McCann, the President of the Alachua County Education Association, said.
Back in March Senator Perry voted in support of HB 7069.
The bill allows the creation of charter schools without district approval.
He also supported HB 7055 that could decertify teacher unions if they don't maintain a 50% membership.
These bills are sparking controversy with teachers.
"We have students who need wrap-around services, they need to be seen by a counselor, they need medical help, they need dentistry help and their parents need social workers to help them and there is no funding for that,” Kim Cook, a media specialist at Irby Elementary School, said.
Senator Perry says he found out about the protest today.
He also says he wishes he would have been there to hear the concerns.
He sent us a statement saying:
“Just this past year in Alachua County, I was proud to secure an additional $1.9 million in education funding. educating our kids has been and will always be my top priority."
Both house bills will take effect on July 1st.