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Florida Teachers Union Endorses Crist's Gubernatorial Bid

Florida’s largest teachers’ union is backing Charlie Crist for governor.

Governor Rick Scott says he’s been boosting education funding for the past two years, including more pay for teachers. But the state’s largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association, isn’t impressed. The union has endorsed Scott’s probable gubernatorial rival—former Governor Charlie Crist. 

“We need an education leader who is going to understand that schools belong to all of us, not just a selected few, that it needs to be away from partisan politics as we move forward in order to move forward and come up with the best school system that we have. Currently, we’re in a mess," says union President Andy Ford.

The FEA did not endorse then-Republican Crist’s 2006 bid for Governor, nor did it endorse him as state education commissioner in 1999. Crist has backed charter schools and vouchers—issues the FEA has opposed. But he earned the union’s support when he vetoed a controversial bill when he was governor—right before jumping ship from the Republican party and declaring himself an independent during a failed Congressional run.  Crist is widely considered the Democratic front-runner to face off against Scott in November. Scott and the FEA have clashed over issues like tenure, school funding and charter schools.

The Scott campaign and Republican Party of Florida didn't comment directly on Crist's endorsement, but in a statement, RPOF Spokeswoman Susan Hepworth reiterated Scott's education funding policies.

"Under Rick Scott, state-based K-12 funding is at the highest level in Florida history, and last year, the Governor and the Legislature gave our teachers $480 million in pay raises. And our students, teachers and schools rank among the highest in the nation. That’s a record Florida families should be proud of.”

Copyright 2014 WFSU

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.