Teachers attend rally to kick off school year
Miami Times staff report | 8/14/2014, 9 a.m.
Over 600 teachers, education support professionals, and local and national business partners Monday converged on the Bank United Center at the University of Miami to hear from Union President Fedrick C. Ingram.
“Let’s have a great year in school. We need to do more for kids than ever before. We have to have a greater footprint in our community in order to get children the resources they need,” Ingram said.
Ingram welcomed members of United Teachers of Dade Partners and the United Way of South Florida. He spoke about establishing successful community partnerships, and encouraged all to be active partners in the communities in which they work, to help schools grow and improve.
“In order to change Miami and Florida for the better, everyone must understand that good public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy, and to be part of the change for good,” Ingram said.
Ingram urged everyone to become champions for students and schools. He also encouraged the crowd to reach out to their friends and neighbors and to talk about the needs of schools, teachers and students.
Mary Catherine Ricker, the newly elected executive vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers, addressed the assembly saying, “We needed to fight for students to be recognized as human beings with more to offer than can be measured by standardized tests.” Michael Mulgrew, president of the 200,000 plus member union, United Federation of Teachers also spoke with Miami teachers, urging them to increase their activism and partnership with stakeholders who support our schools.
Annette Taddeo, candidate for Lieutenant Governor and running mate with Charlie Crist, thanked the teachers for their hard work. If elected, Taddeo assured the crowd that education will be a priority in their administration. Taddeo spoke passionately about the need for quality education. She said teachers have been concerned because of the $1.3 billion in cuts that state schools have suffered under the current governor.
During the day-long retreat, leaders from around the state and country as well, received professional development for the new school year. Representatives from community organizations spoke with teachers about how to get involved and support students beyond the classroom. During a lunch with teachers, the United Way made a presentation and thanked public school employees for being the largest group contributors in South Florida.
The teachers also learned more about the history of the United Teachers of Dade and its leadership role in integrating of teachers unions. This year is the 40th anniversary of the merger of the Dade County Classroom Teachers Association and the Dade Federation of Teachers. The white and Black teachers organizations merged in 1974 and were the first teachers unions in the south to do so. In honor of the anniversary, the theme of the event followed a 1970s motif. Attendees were urged to wear clothing of the era and many participated.