American Federation of Teachers on Different Page than State, Local Unions in Florida on Online Learning

With Florida school districts deciding on when and how to reopen schools, teachers’ unions are engaging in an internal debate on how to approach this, especially in regards to online learning.

Earlier this month, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten insisted “we know remote learning hasn’t worked.”

But some surveys filled out by school teachers and parents show increasing support for online learning.

The Duval County Public School District shared a survey showing both public school teachers and parents want to continue online learning until campuses can open back up.

In Broward County, more than 130,000 families were asked how they felt about online schooling. Around a third of those surveyed–32 percent–say they want to continue with online learning and 35 percent support a mix of online learning and face-to-face education.

While Weingarten is not on board with online learning as a choice for parents, Florida’s largest teachers’ union is pushing some remote learning as an option for parents when schools reopen.

Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram, who chairs the union’s Statewide Committee to Safely Reopen Public Schools, said in June that one of the committee’s recommendations for reopening schools includes hybrid instruction, which blends traditional classroom instruction and online learning activities.

Several local teachers’ unions are also breaking with the AFT when it comes to online education.

The Broward Teachers’ Union, which has a membership of more than 11,000, noted around 70 percent of its members want to continue online learning when schools reopen.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said if the COVID-19 numbers do not improve, he wants all students to be educated through online learning.

“When we open schools in the fall, I am recommending that instruction will be 100 percent e-learning. That is the only way we can educate our students while keeping them and their teachers healthy and safe,” said Runcie.

In other counties, teachers’ unions are also pushing for more online options. The Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association is calling for virtual learning to continue when the school year begins.


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