Sources: Crist picks head of teachers’ union as running mate | National
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON and ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON – Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is expected to announce he has chosen the president of the Miami-Dade County teachers’ union to be his running mate as he challenges Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, two people familiar with the campaign said on Friday.
United Teachers of Dade president Karla Hernandez-Mats will be announced as Crist’s running mate on Saturday, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.
The pick will ensure DeSantis’ education policy is an issue in the campaign. The governor appealed to his conservative base in limit discussions about race in schools; prohibit discussion of LGBTQ issues in grades K-3 and limit it in upper grades; forcing schools to publish the contents of their libraries and give parents more control in the choice of textbooks.
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DeSantis also took action to punish school districts that passed mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, he removed four members of the Broward County School Board after a grand jury report into the 2018 Parkland High School shooting accused them of deception and incompetence in running a school safety program. .
Hernandez-Mats advocated delaying students’ return to school until fall 2020 and continuing with mask mandates in 2021, in defiance of the DeSantis administration. She also criticized what opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans classes on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Hernandez-Mats is the daughter of two Honduran immigrants who came to the United States in the 1970s. She said she learned the importance of defending workers’ rights because her father had few rights as a farmhand after have been an accountant in his country of origin.
Hernandez-Mats was the first Hispanic to be elected to lead the United Teachers of Dade in 2016. The school district has more than 30,000 employees and more than 330,000 students. The American Federation of Teachers says Hernández-Mats helped lead an effort to organize a 2018 referendum in which voters approved a pay raise for public school teachers.
In 2010, she was chosen as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School for her work with children with special needs.
DeSantis is widely believed to be considering a 2024 presidential bid; winning a second term as governor would be the first step in that journey.
Gomez Licon reported from Miami.
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