During a press conference at the True North Classical Academy in Miami, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a series of laws meant to "support and empower Florida’s teachers, reign in out-of-control unions and school boards, get TikTok out of schools, and protect the integrity of the classroom."
These reforms include a Teachers Bill of Rights which allows for teachers to "preserve safety and order in their classrooms by giving teaches the benefit of the doubt when breaking up fights, preventing assaults, and giving teachers the presumption of acting lawfully, acting on behalf of their personal safety, and the safety of their students," according to the Governor's office.
There has been a recent uptick in violent brawls in South Florida School Districts.
"Teachers have a right to teach in an orderly and safe classroom," said Governor DeSantis.
Today Governor DeSantis signed the Teachers Bill of Rights, empowering teachers to “preserve the order and safety of their classroom”. pic.twitter.com/fIWbm8ioRN
— Chris Nelson 🇺🇸 🏝 (@ReOpenChris) May 9, 2023
The reforms also include a "$252+ million increase for the teacher salary increase categorical, which will stand at more than $1 billion for school year 2023–2024," according to the Governor's office.
“We have delivered another record boost to teacher pay and we have coupled salary increases with positive reforms. For far too long, unions and rogue school boards have pushed around our teachers, misused government funds for political purposes, taken money from teachers’ pockets to steer it for purposes other than representation of teachers, and sheltered their true political goals from the educators they purport to represent,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis slammed the Teachers Unions for pushing to keep schools closed and children masked.
"They were instrumental in trying to force mask the kids. Against the evidence, against the science, against the data," DeSantis told the Floridian. "We are the state level were instrumental in unmasking the kids."
“In Chicago, you’d have the Teachers Union saying ‘We can’t have kids in school! It’s too dangerous! Then you’d see the Union people in the Bahamas partying, no mask!”
DeSantis calls out the Teachers Unions for keeping children masked and for holding up Teacher Pay Increases. pic.twitter.com/oqHw16WPb9
— Chris Nelson 🇺🇸 🏝 (@ReOpenChris) May 9, 2023
DeSantis also called out Florida Teacher's Unions for holding up the teacher pay increase for political reasons.
"Some of the School Unions were holding up the pay increases," said DeSantis. "They had the money in July of 2022, and we got to the end of the year and they still hadn't given pay increases to their teachers because they were trying to leverage that for other things to benefit the school unions."
Under a new law signed by Governor DeSantis, union dues will no longer be allowed to be automatically deducted from teachers paychecks.
"By signing the Paycheck Protection Act, Florida teachers will be able to choose how their hard-earned money is spent," Tweeted DeSantis. "School unions will no longer be able to hold teachers' paychecks hostage with veiled threats while hiding where the money goes."
By signing the Paycheck Protection Act, Florida teachers will be able to choose how their hard-earned money is spent.
School unions will no longer be able to hold teachers’ paychecks hostage with veiled threats while hiding where the money goes.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 9, 2023
The new law also seeks to hold Unions accountable by allowing state investigations into unions suspected of fraud, waste and abuse and requiring annual audits and financial disclosures for unions.
“Today, I want to thank our legislative leaders and the many bill sponsors for working with us to empower our teachers and ushering in a new era of accountability to the people," said DeSantis. "No longer will politically motivated school boards and special interests wield their power over Florida’s teachers.”
Another law signed today seeks to to limit the power of School Board Members by limiting them to two four-year terms.
“Senate Bill (SB) 256, House Bill (HB) 477, HB 1537, HB 1035 and HB 379 represent the most comprehensive package of pro-educator bills in Florida’s history, and probably the nation’s," said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr.
A fourth law signed today by DeSantis will allow for teachers to establish rules for cell phone use during class time and also ban the use of the app Tik Tok, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The law also requires schools to give instruction on the harmful effects of social media.
DeSantis says Teachers should be able to tell kids to leave their phones at the front of the room during class.
“As a mom, I’m particularly grateful for the Governor and Legislature’s focus on getting social media out of the classroom and giving teachers the benefit of the doubt when maintaining safety in the classroom. This is a clear recognition that the voices and concerns of Florida’s teachers were heard and addressed in the 2023 Session," said Lt Governor Jeanette Nunez.
The new laws go into effect July 1.