When Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Christ ran for lieutenant governor last weekend, educator and teacher union president Carla Hernandez Matz wasn’t going to be her usual lieutenant governor.

The last two educated lieutenant governors were Republicans. This time it may be the Democrats.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Christo elected United Teachers of Dade President Carla Hernandez Matz as lieutenant governor on August 27, 2022.Credits: Screenshots/Twitter, Charlie Christ Campaign

In fact, Hernandez Mats could become Florida’s first Democratic Lieutenant Governor with an extensive educational background.

When the public school classroom becomes a turbulent political arena, especially when the lieutenant governor is an educator with field knowledge, who takes office as the executive’s second in command has implications for future education policy. may give.

“I think what’s really powerful about this choice is this idea that education is going to be an important issue in this election,” said Andrew Spurr, president of a statewide teachers’ union called the Florida Education Association.

Recall that Christo himself was a former member of the school board from January 2001 to 2003.

Political fire rages in Florida classrooms

Christ’s choice in Hernández-Mats reflects the raging political fires raging in classrooms in Florida. Because Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republicans have turned public education into an arena to divide school communities and enforce conservative priorities.

Some teachers appreciate the policies DeSantis advocates, while others feel they are not valued or respected by the governor.

Andrew Spare, president of the Florida Education Association; Credits: Portrait of an FEA Officer.

“We have one candidate who is insulting, insulting, and bashing teachers, while another has said, ‘Put teachers on the ballot,'” Spare continued.

“And I think it’s an incredible framework in and of itself. There’s going to be a conversation about public education and the future of public education right here in Florida,” he said.

From restricting classroom instruction on race and American history, to banning certain discussions of LGBTQ+ issues, to trying to influence locally elected school boards, DeSantis is a political has played a role in shifting the popular spotlight to education.

That’s the K-12 system. The DeSantis government also brought about major changes in higher education. For example, a tenured professor underwent a five-year performance appraisal and underperformed a questionnaire measuring so-called “intellectual freedom and diversity of perspectives.”

Andrew Gossard, Dean of the Union Department of Florida, emphasized the importance of having a person in the lieutenant governor’s office who is well versed in today’s political climate in education.

J. Andrew Gossard, President of the United College of Florida. Credits: UFF.

“We have had previous leaders with teaching experience in this type of position, but we have lieutenant governors who know the day-to-day working and learning conditions are for K-12s and colleges in Florida. It’s really important, I’m a college student,” Gothard said. “Because we are seeing very punitive policies coming from Governor DeSantis and his supporters who are trying to punish local students and local faculty for just trying to do their job. There are many attempts to do so.”

However, nearly two months after the general election, Christo must convince the people of Florida to support his educational policies, not DeSantis’ agenda.

This is where his lieutenant governor pick comes in.

Karla Hernández-Mats currently serves as president of the United Teachers of Dade, the teachers’ union representing educators in the Miami-Dade County School District. She is a first generation Honduran American and has been teaching in a classroom in Florida for over 10 years.

She can also speak Spanish. This is a huge advantage in our goal of reaching as many Floridians as possible.

“This is the perfect role for her,” Rep. Kevin Chambliss told Phoenix. He said he interacted with Hernandez Mats.

He discussed unions pushing back against the DeSantis administration’s COVID policies, including reopening schools amid a pandemic that was rare at the time, and whether parents and school districts can decide whether students can wear masks in schools. .

“And this is the perfect tool in Christo Hernández’s campaign arsenal to oppose some of this educational rhetoric you hear in DeSantis’ campaign, because she has been president of the Teachers’ Union for the past 50 years.” , because we’ve fought that battle,” Chambliss said.

Republican Attack and Infatuation

As soon as her vice-government candidacy was announced, the Florida Republicans began attacking her, and Christo “choosing a radical left-wing teacher union boss as his vice-presidential candidate is a slap in the face to Florida families.” and argued that: She ‘mourned’ the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro based on tweet She posted when he died.

Republicans also claimed that Hernandez Mats “protected sex offenders over the years and accompanied numerous investigations into the sexual assault of multiple students at Miami-Dade Middle School.”

The situation involved a former UTD member who had been jailed for sexually assaulting a student. In a written statement to Phoenix, Christo’s campaign called the allegations “lie” and held local school boards, rather than the teachers’ union, responsible for reviewing and firing teachers.

Some of her supporters doubt she can withstand heat.

“MS. Hernandez has it all, the kitchen sink Governor DeSantis has his men throw at her, right?” Spar, according to the FEA. “It’s like they throw everything they can at Ms. Hernández, but what they find is that the teachers are used to it… Teachers have had everything thrown at them over the years. rice field.”

Spare also said her tenacity and communication skills were a plus in running for lieutenant governor.

“MS. Hernández is a powerful person who can speak to individuals and really communicate with everyday families and workers in Florida. And I think that’s a valuable asset she brings to the table.” She’s a fighter.She’s incredibly smart.”

2 lt.Governor of Education

Florida Lieutenant Governor Portrait of Frank Brogan. Credit: Wikipedia.

In recent Florida history, we have two lieutenant governors who have previously worked in classrooms and have seen how the Florida education system works on an individual level.

Both served under Governor Jeb Bush and both were Republicans.

Frank Brogan served as Governor Bush’s lieutenant from 1999 to 1999. Prior to that, he served as superintendent of Martin County schools from 1988 to 1994. He also worked as an elementary school teacher from 1978 until 1983 and other education-based endeavors. , according to the resume.

Toni Jennings was Florida’s first female lieutenant governor appointed from 2003 to early 2007 and served in the Florida Senate from 1996 to 2000.

Toni Jennings, 16th Lieutenant Governor of Florida. Credit: Wikipedia.

However, she also started out as an elementary school teacher in Orange County, according to the Orange County Public Schools website.

Chambliss said the lieutenant governor’s role often reflects the priorities of the incumbent governor, and Christo used a similar strategy in choosing Hernandez-Matt that Bush had when he appointed Brogan and Jennings. It says it is being implemented.

“He (Bush) has done a lot of work focusing on the education sector. He has supported private schools and charters on numerous occasions,” Chambliss said. “That kind of agenda was already part of his agenda, so it might make sense for someone with that kind of background to be out there.”

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