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Pinellas teachers union endorsements irritate teacher candidates

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The teachers running for Pinellas school board this year are miffed they didn’t win backing from what would seem a natural ally: the teachers union.

The union’s political action committee chose incumbent Linda Lerner over middle school teacher Brian Hawley and retired principal Terry Krassner over math/science coach Fonda Huff. The union’s PAC also endorsed incumbent Peggy O’Shea over Greg Hunsinger, who retired as a teacher last year.

“Very frustrated” is how Hawley, a teachers union representative at Largo Middle School, described his reaction to The Gradebook. “I understand politically why they made the choice,” he said. “But to back incumbents in a time like this, and to back former administrators, seems a step away from their principles.”

“During the past School Board elections the ‘teacher’ union has always endorsed an administrator over a teacher,” Huff said in an e-mail to The Gradebook. “That is why so many teachers refuse to join the union … They feel that the ‘teacher’ union is really an administrator union, and once again the union has proved that very point.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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