PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- Hundreds of teachers give Governor Rick Scott a not-so-pleasant homecoming to Southwest Florida. The Governor was in Port Charlotte on Saturday for an event hosted by the Charlotte County Republicans.
Teachers from Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Sarasota, and Manatee counties all joined forces in hopes of sending a strong message to Governor Scott during his trip away from Tallahassee.
With loudspeakers and signs, teachers continue to shout their message at Governor Scott: no cuts to education.
"I've been with the school board for 22 years and these cuts only hurt the children," said Charlotte County Schools employee Luther Peters.
The Legislature passed the controversial merit pay bill this week, basing part of teachers salaries on how students fare on the FCAT. Protesters say that decision was a devastating blow to teachers across the state.
"They don't understand, we don't have clients. We do not have a product, we teach children. Children are individuals, so they cannot treat us all the same," Sarasota County teacher Beverly Leis said during the protest on Saturday.
The decision doesn't mean teachers are backing down. They're now fighting to protect pension plans and the strength of their unions, two topics also up debate by lawmakers this session.
"Teachers don't get the opportunity to work overtime, to do anything like that. We need to have that collective bargaining part of our contract," said Charlotte County teacher Peggy O'Connor.
But some lawmakers say it's time to treat education like a business...a notion some teachers fear will change the face of Florida's public education system.
"I just hope he thinks twice. I hope he can see how many people really care for public education in the state of Florida. I hope he thinks twice about the decision that he makes," O'Connor said Saturday.
WINK News tried to get comment from Governor Rick Scott about the teacher protests, but unfortunately, no media outlets were allowed into the event.