The teachers at Fern Creek Elementary quickly drove home their lesson plan when Gov. Rick Scott showed up on their campus Thursday.

Teacher morale is low, they told him. That’s because educators are grappling with a new evaluation system, tougher academic standards, smaller paychecks and a sense the state is against them.

At their small, B-rated school — where most students live in low-income families and nearly a quarter are homeless — the need to provide youngsters with food, clothing and sometimes even housing makes their challenges all the greater, they said.

“Morale has gone down so much for teachers,” said Mary Beth Perkins, the school’s art teacher. “I just feel like the state needs to step up and support education.”

Scott brought his week-long “education listening tour” to Central Florida, visiting the school in Orlando’s Colonialtown neighborhood. He was to meet with school superintendents later in the day and then to speak with parents at Ocoee Middle in the evening.

Scott said he launched the tour to get “ideas for ways we can strengthen our education system.”

Teachers tell Scott morale is low and they feel disrespected
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