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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

6,000 teachers, students oppose state education cuts

ORLANDO - No more cuts.

This was the message brought by 6,000 teachers, parents and students who gathered Saturday to raise awareness about education cuts.

The Make Our Schools a Priority Rally featured speakers who gave personal testimonies about their experiences with Florida's poorly funded public education system.

The rally emphasized the need for those who care about public education to contact local and state politicians and express their opinions.

About 35 UF students attended the rally.

Mark Pudlow, Florida Education Association spokesman, said FEA realized the budget cuts were taking a toll on public schools last fall.

When it comes to education funding, Pudlow said Florida is at the bottom compared to the rest of the country and has the largest class sizes.

Kali Davis, a UF graduate student in elementary and special education, was asked by FEA to speak at the rally as the voice of pre-service teachers, college students that teach as a part of their curriculum.

"I am appalled by the empty promises when it comes to education," Davis said at the rally. "They don't understand that high quality public schools are essential to the quality of this state."

Davis, president of the student chapter of the Florida Education Association at UF, said in order for those who care about public education to get what they want from the government, they have to take a stand.

Davis interns in a third grade class at Joseph Williams Elementary School in Gainesville.

She said that because of poor funding, Joseph Williams students have art class one semester per year because they share an art teacher with a local elementary school.

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Although teachers are fighting for better pay and planning periods, Davis said it is for the good of the students.

"It is all part of the quality education; they deserve to grow up and be successful," she said.

President of the UF FEA Sarah McGarrah, an elementary education senior, said Florida public schools aren't the only ones that are hurting from budget cuts.

UF is tossing around the idea of cutting the undergraduate programs of education and nursing, she said.

"Cuts are coming at us from any angle," Davis said. "Cuts in education do not heal, and shame on anyone who doesn't understand that."

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