ORLANDO, Fla. — Thousands of teachers are in town this week for the National Education Association’s annual meeting.

What You Need To Know

  • National Education Association holding annual meeting in Orlando this week

  • Thousands of educators from across the country gathered Wednesday morning for the Freedom to Learn raily

  • They are calling for the end of the politicization of public education; they are demanding that all students have access to a high-quality education

They took over the parking lot at the Orange County Convention Center Wednesday morning for what they called the Freedom to Learn rally, which focused on speaking out against the politicization of public education.

Teachers from all 50 states, support staff and aspiring educators gathered to speak against political actions that they say are pushing hate and division into the classroom. This includes legislation that's making it easier to challenge books and policies impacting LGBTQ+ students.

One teacher came all the way from California to participate. They said the fact that it is being held in Florida made it even more important to show up. 

"That’s a lot of the reason why all of us are here and decided to keep this meeting in Florida, [it's] to help support and lift up our Florida educators," said Mel House, who has taught physical education to elementary students in Los Angeles for the last 25 years. 

NEA leadership hopes politicians are paying attention and know that educators will not stop demanding that all students have access to a high-quality education.

"Educators all over this country and around the world, we are standing up, we are speaking out and we are demanding that our students have what they need and what they deserve," said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association. 

After witnessing the turnout at the rally, Pringle said she's never felt more proud to be an educator. 

"They are living into what I believe is our professional responsibility and our moral obligation," Pringle said. "We have to advocate for our students. We have to lift up our voices so that they get what they need. We have to stand up so that they have the freedom to learn and we have the freedom to teach, and that is what they did this morning."

Spectrum News reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis' office for a response to this morning’s rally. A representative for his office said it makes sense that the NEA would host their conference here as Florida ranks number one in education and union members can add to Florida’s tourism numbers. They added that not having a book available in schools does not make it banned.