MIAMI – It is the holiday season and almost winter break for schools in South Florida, so the Miami-Dade teachers union tried to avoid a confrontational tone on Thursday.
Through their statement, however, and recent words from the governor, it’s clear the culture battle in the classroom will continue in 2023.
The United Teachers of Dade delivered Christmas cookies to Miami-Dade School Board members on Thursday, but also included were nine requests for the incoming board.
“To deliver, hand deliver, an educator’s wish list during the holidays,” said union president Karla Hernandez-Mats.
On that list were several you might expect to hear from a union.
“Better benefits, example, health insurance, housing, paid parental leave and mental health days,” said Hernandez-Mats.
But also others that reference the culture wars that continue to play out over public school curriculum.
“Autonomy, respect and appreciation for all staff,” Hernandez-Mats said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, fresh off his landslide reelection, openly endorsed dozens of school board candidates in the November election, helping elect 24 statewide.
DeSantis made clear this week that he wants more, hosting over 100 potential school board candidates in Orlando at an event called the Freedom Blueprint.
“We want to not have classrooms that are politicized, we want to make sure we stay away from that,” said Hernandez-Mats. “Our kids come to school to be in nice, healthy environments that are not polarized.”
The union argues that debates like ones on the recent proposal to limit the display of certain flags in classrooms, discourage educators, which ultimately contributes to a shortage of teachers.
“The culture wars is one of the things that has actually detracted people from coming into this profession,” said Hernandez-Mats.
Also on that list were requests for better mental health services, less testing and a larger pool of substitute teachers.