Earlier this year, when Florida Gov. Charlie Crist supported SB 6—which would have put all teachers on annual contracts and tied half of their pay and evaluations to student test scores—he was Public Enemy No. 1 for the Florida Education Association.
But, at the last moment, the then-Republican governor changed his mind and vetoed the bill. Public adulation by the FEA followed. And now Crist is reaping the FEA’s support in the political arena: FEA took the unusual step of endorsing both Crist, now an independent, and a Democrat for a Senate race this fall at an AFL-CIO event.
It’s hard to know exactly how this is going to affect the outcome of that race and whether appreciative teachers will really pony up for Crist inside the voting booth. The Associated Press story linked to above notes that the Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek, is popular for his support of the state’s class-size-reduction mandate .
Still, this comes as a good reminder of why politicians court teachers’ unions: The unions have thousands of people in their constituencies who can help get out the vote. Would an independent Crist be a viable candidate without FEA support? Good question.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.