ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County teachers took their fight for equal pay straight to their state lawmakers on Monday night.
- Teachers, school board accused state of diverting education funds
- Education leaders, teachers urged to go to state capital to fight
- RELATED: Orange County Schools Mull Over How to Give Teachers Better Wages
The familiar red shirts of Orange County teachers fighting for a fair, livable wage showed up again Monday.
The teachers did this before the state lawmakers who represent Orange County during a listening session that was held at the Orange County Government Center.
"It shouldn't have to get to the point that I'm angry, but here I am, I'm angry," said Orange County art teacher Michelle Ramirez.
This time they were joined by the very people they had been advocating to before. All uniting to let lawmakers know that Florida teachers deserve better: The Orange County Public Schools board.
"Teachers need a salary they can live on," said Linda Kobert, a member of the OCPS board.
The lawmakers also heard from others.
"About 40 percent of Florida teachers leave within the first five years of teaching because of low salary, poor working conditions, and a lack of respect," said Wendy Doromal, Orange County Classroom Teachers Association president.
Some of the teachers voiced their frustration.
"I am angry that Florida has the money, and chooses not to use it for public education," added Ramirez.
All of these groups accused the state of diverting more public education funds to private and charter schools.
Democratic representatives like Geraldine Thompson said they heard these teachers loud and clear and say they are committing to fight for higher pay.
"Of course I'm going to be fighting for raises for our teachers to bring them up to the national average, and when I say raises I'm talking about a base salary," Thompson said.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, who sits on the Pre-K to 12 Quality subcommittee with Thompson, says they tried to pass legislation last session that would raise teachers' base pay, but they were unsuccessful.
"There was a bill that we filed that would increase teacher pay by a starting base salary of $50,000. I think those types of bills need to be filed again," Eskamani said.
That is why she says they need Orange County teachers and other teachers to come to Tallahassee and speak up to the lawmakers who were not at the meeting on Monday night.
Lawmakers will go back to Tallahassee for the start of the next legislative session in January of next year.