CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla - You'll be hard-pressed to find a teacher who didn't stay up until the early hours of the morning watching and waiting for the final vote on Senate Bill 6. The house passed it 64-55. Some say, they already knew it would come down to Governor Charlie Crist's decision. They just hope he vetoes it.
A week ago, teachers across Charlotte County took time out of their spring breaks to protest, and more importantly, educate people on a bill they said would destroy Florida's education system. A week later, SB 6 is in Gov. Crist's hands. "We knew it was going to end up on the Governor's desk. We were just hoping and praying to maybe get our local representatives to listen to their constituency and not to the republican party," said Bryan Bouton, a Port Charlotte h.s. teacher.
"The fact that there is no inclusion, no corroboration, no talking to any stakeholder, you can only wonder what the real agenda is behind this and unfortunately the kids of Florida are going to suffer," said Charlotte Florida Education Association President, John Klenovic.
The two state representatives whose offices they protested in front of, Paige Kreegel and Ken Roberson, voted "yes." Kreegel tells me he is in no way anti-teacher, and understands their concerns. But he says, offering financial incentives is the next step in making Florida's education system better. Local educators say the fights not over yet. "I can tell you that teachers will not go quietly. We won't just give up and throw our kids down the drain. We will exert every legal option that's available and there are many," Klenovic said.
Although Crist initially supported the bill, he now says he's unsure if he'll sign it after his office has become flooded with calls and e-mails. Local teachers say that's also their strategy for the next week.