For the first time in nearly nine years, and just the second time in half a century, Miami-Dade County’s teachers union has a new president.
Fedrick Ingram, 39, was sworn in Thursday during a ceremony at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus as the leader of the United Teachers of Dade, which represents more than 34,000 members, most of them teachers. He replaces Karen Aronowitz, who chose not to seek a fourth term.
Aronowitz took over in 2004 after the downfall of longtime union boss Pat Tornillo, who’d used union funds to support a lavish lifestyle. She helped bring the union back from the brink of bankruptcy, and during a recession avoided the teacher layoffs seen elsewhere in the country. She also navigated through an era in which the state committed to a merit pay.
Aronowitz said she’s returning to the classroom.
“I figure the district has a minimum of two years of ‘needs improvement’ before they can get rid of me,” she said in a swipe at Florida’s controversial teacher evaluation system.
As president, Ingram will negotiate salaries and healthcare and try to build a declining membership. The former band director and Miami-Dade teacher of the year is the union’s first black president. The post pays $134,000.
“We will not blink. We will not flinch,” he said to union members. “We will not back away from this fight”