From the Miami Herald: Charlie Crist sauntered into a North Miami high school on Friday to a rock star’s welcome.
Students cheered and waved homemade signs and banners.
Teachers rose to their feet.
Crist received even more fanfare than Alonzo and Tracy Mourning, the school’s namesakes who had also come to campus that morning for a previously planned dedication ceremony.
A day earlier, the governor had vetoed a controversial teacher pay bill, breaking ranks with the Republican Party and winning the support of teachers and parents across the state.
The bill would have tied teacher pay to students’ learning gains rather than years of experience and training.
“You did it, my friend,” said North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre. “You are a hero to our schools.”
Inside the school’s auditorium, which doubles as a cafeteria, Crist was introduced by Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who praised the governor for fighting “the culture of disrespect of the teaching profession.”
“Profiles in courage are written when things are bad, when doors are closed,” Carvalho said.
The audience of teachers, administrators, parent volunteers and students stood up, clapped and cheered when Crist took the stage.
Twenty students appeared behind him, carrying signs thanking the governor for his action. The largest was on yellow poster paper and had to be carried by three students.
Written in large red letters: “The Teachers’ Governor Crist.”
Crist relished the moment, smiling frequently and kissing his wife, Carole. “I might get detention,” he quipped.
Crist reiterated why he had vetoed the bill.
“There were good parts to it,” he said. “Rewarding merit is a good thing to do, but it’s got to be done right.”
He then thanked the thousands of Floridians who had called, written, protested and expressed their opinions on the bill.
“It made a difference,” he said. “Your voice was heard.”
The audience included a bevy of elected officials, each of whom weighed in on Crist’s decision.
“It’s a happy day in Florida,” said state Rep. Julio Robaina, a Miami Republican who was one of 11 lawmakers in the House to vote against the bill.
Even the guests of honor voiced their opinion.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what the motivation was, so long as the right decision was made,” Tracy Mourning said. “And we believe the right decision was made.”
The bill is now back on the table for rewriting, where it is likely to languish this legislative season.
Still, questions swirled about Crist’s political future.
When asked outright if he was going to run as an independent, Crist left the door open.
Said the governor: “Right now, I’m going to see Alonzo and Tracy Mourning.”