The Florida Legislative session that started March 2, 2021 has been the single most well-funded private interest group effort to divide Florida teachers and to take away our rights to collectively deliver what’s best for Florida’s students. The state is ‘open for business’, however, you can’t go over to the state Capitol and walk in like the ‘good old days…”. There is a certain level of hypocrisy never seen before in the state. There are multiple bills that the legislature is considering (i.e., this session) that do not fix Florida’s problems; they just create more while at the same time increase state spending in order to implement them if passed into law. Utterly ridiculous in my opinion. For example, let’s say state revenue is down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and that shortfall may place pressure on money available for future budgeting. That makes sense until you look at the big picture. A number of wealthy out-of-state special interests funded by Betsy DeVos’ Mackinac Center and others are very active now. Florida Senate bill #78 does not address any problems in Florida and does nothing to improve the situation for our public sector employees and the Florida House estimates $400,000 will be needed to implement SB#78 should it pass. My only question is why do you add an extra $400K line item (that’s not needed by the citizens) to the state budget that is already experiencing heavy fiscal pressure? That was a rhetorical question. My point if we are going to “stress the budget”, then designate ‘those monies’ specifically for Florida’s students and the individuals responsible for educating them (i.e., K-20 employees in Florida). In business terms make a wise investment (K-20 public system) versus throwing money away for points that are not even of interest in Florida (i.e., SB#78). We are not suggesting party affiliation here—We are demanding common sense for Florida. Floridians need to become more legislatively active for “common sense legislation” regardless of party affiliation!
From a different perspective the world as we used to know it has permanently changed with the COVID-19 global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is currently in effect and despite recent vaccination successes in the US since the 46th President was sworn in, our colleagues, friends, and countrymen are continuing to die and get sick at alarmingly high rates. It must be said that Florida does not make it straightforward to analyze the data that Florida reports to the various federal health reporting agencies. Thus, it is difficult to totally accept raw data from Florida because Florida does not make all of the variables that feed into their calculations available to the public for review, understanding, and usage in additional calculations based on raw Florida data. Also of note, the state of Florida does not meet World Health Organization (WHO) recommended testing criteria.
- COVID-19 Global Confirmed Cases: 132,775,013
- Global Confirmed Deaths: 2,880,681
- United States Confirmed Cases: 30,907,352
- US Confirmed Deaths: 558,956
- Florida Confirmed Cases: 2,090,862
- Florida Confirmed Deaths: 33,780
- The state of Florida has vaccinated only 18.38% of its total population as of today (April 7, 2021).
The recent sense of security should be taken with a grain of salt with respect to Florida and the COVID-19 Pandemic’s impact on K-20 education. There are a number of real threats in the environment and “…declaring them gone…” does not work. The COVID-19 Pandemic is real, and vaccinations alone will not get Florida, the US, and the world to where they need to be in order to stop this pandemic. We have to continue to social distance, practice good hand hygiene, utilize face coverings, and upgrade COVID-19 testing and contact tracing protocols/implementation. Likewise, we must tell the truth regarding the pandemic; not the politically driven convenient rhetoric spread to society today.
We need all to come together for what’s best for FAMU. FAMU’s center is our most valuable asset—our students! We will continue to work hard to collaborate with the University leadership team as they navigate through these very challenging COVID-19 Pandemic times. We will not settle for any violation of the CBA by anyone, nor will we forfeit faculty rights that have taken years of hard work to obtain. As evidenced by our recent impact bargaining win with respect to a January 20, 2021 University FAMUINFO email message to faculty. FAMUFF is open to solving problems internally, expeditiously, and fairly using the CBA as the rubric. We will continue to seek and obtain wage increases because it costs more to live each year.
Roscoe Hightower, Jr., PhD.
Centennial Eminent Scholar Chair and Professor of Marketing and Facility Management | EuroFM Ambassador to the United States | President of FAMU United Faculty of Florida (UFF) Labor Union Chapter | Facility Management Accreditation Commission (FMAC) Board of Commissioners
FAMU First FAMU Forward FAMU Forever,