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Florida Student Members Rally to Save College of Education

The crisis of adequately funded public education hit home recently for Student Florida Education Association Members (SFEA) who are facing the loss of their undergraduate program in education at the University of Florida in Gainesville due to budget cuts.

More than 160 students, faculty, and community members held a candlelight vigil March 4 to encourage University of Florida officials not to close the Colleges of Education and Nursing.

Those were the only two asked to outline the pros and cons of continuing their undergraduate programs, according to UWire.

University spokespeople said the college wanted to “shift toward a focus on graduate education.”

Attendees holding candles listened to the state’s key education leaders including Florida Education Association vice president Joanne McCall.

McCall urged students to continue their letter-writing campaign, vote, and stay active. Students created a Facebook group called “Save Undergraduate Education at UF.” The group had 700 members at the time of the vigil.

SFEA president Kali Davis, to close the vigil, read a letter that first- and second-graders wrote to University of Florida President Bernie Machen. They said they would be “scared, unhappy and, maybe even frustrated” if they didn’t have their interns next year. The students pleaded, “Please help us Mr. Machen! Let our interns come back next year. They mean the world to us.”

Concerned students representing a variety of campus organizations formed Coalition Save our Schools aimed at fighting budget cuts on state campuses. They borrowed the idea from a successful Tennessee organizing campaign around similar issues. The coalition hopes to bridge gaps between students and labor to form a unified front in the fight for affordable public education in Florida and the nation.

Interested in helping University of Florida SFEA in their campaign? Contact Kali Davis at UfloridaFEA@gmail.com.

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