National teacher union on last push to invigorate citizens to vote; ends tour Sunday in FL’s swing state

By: - October 31, 2020 10:35 am

Fedrick Ingram, Secretary-Treasurer of American Federation of Teachers, speaks in Kissimmee on AFT Votes Tour. Source: Screen grab from AFT Facebook page

A multistate push to vote from the nationwide American Federation of Teachers will end its 14-state bus tour this weekend in Florida’s swing state and through South Florida.

When the tour started on September 30 in Los Angeles on the West Coast, AFT President Randi Weingarten said the effort will “be urging people to use their voice and make a difference by voting … because every American’s well-being and future, as well as our democracy, depend on the outcome of this election,” according to a press release.

Public education has been a major concern during the campaign season, in large part because of the handling of COVID-19 and the turmoil over reopening brick-and-mortar schools for students across the country. That includes Florida’s 2.8-million public school students, and Miami-Dade’s mammoth school district.

Since Thursday, a bus has passed through Gainesville to rally Alachua voters. By end of day Friday, the AFT Votes bus will have passed through Tampa, Kissimmee, and Sanford.

The AFT Votes bus will visit Miramar Saturday and end it’s month-long tour in Miami Sunday afternoon as the last push to invigorate citizens to exercise their right to vote before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Fedrick Ingram, former president of the Florida Education Association and current Secretary-Treasurer for AFT, joined the tour and highlighted Florida’s contribution to the general election.

“You all will decide the next president of the United States of America,” said Ingram during their stop in Kissimmee, Fl. The Sunshine State has long been a political battleground and has had a history of difficult elections.

During the stops in Florida, many of the speakers wore Biden/Harris shirts. The AFT and other unions have endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden and believes he would best protect American education, as opposed to President Donald Trump.

Ingram tried to appeal to Republican voters as well.

“To my Republican friends… all I’m going to tell you is this: somebody hired Betsy DeVos. Somebody hired Betsy DeVos — the worst (U.S.) Secretary of Education that America has ever seen,” he said.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Photo Credit: Michael Vadon.

DeVos, who was appointed by Trump, has been widely criticized for her overall lack of experience in the position, among numerous other critiques.

“You, Secretary DeVos, hired by Donald Trump, have given us no hope for the future,” Ingram said.

In a previous conversation with the Phoenix about the AFT Votes tour, Andrew Spar,  the current FEA president in Florida, said that it is no secret that the AFT endorsed Biden, but the push to vote is non-partisan.

“I find it interesting when we talk about people going and voting and making sure people are voting and encouraging them to vote — there are some who sit there and say ‘that’s political,'” said Spar in a conversation with the Phoenix. “So my message on that is… no one should be intimidated from voting. No one’s vote should be suppressed.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.