Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Teachers protest to Charlie Crist about Senate Bill 6; Chamber of Commerce Supports It

Ohanian Comment: Here are several articles about Florida's notorious Senate Bill 6. Teachers in other states are experiencing assaults, and still others soon will be. After all, President Obama and Secretary Duncan are leading the way. This is what Race to the Top is all about.

You can read a copy of the infamous Florida Senate Bill 6 here [pdf file]

Read the Polk Education Association explanation of the bill here

Read the Florida Education Association explanation here.

CEO of Florida Chamber of Commerce supports SB 6

by Cara Fitzpatrick

Mark Wilson, the chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is throwing his support behind Senate Bill 6, the controversial bill proposed by Sen. John Thrasher that would link teacher pay to student performance on end-of-course tests.

Here is his entire statement:

"The passage of performance pay legislation is a great step forward for Florida's education system–as well as for the future of our economy.

"If Florida is to become more competitive in the global marketplace, we must prepare for the next economy by focusing on creating a world-class talent supply chain and that starts in the classroom by further supporting our public school teachers.

"A student̢۪s success is directly related to the quality, passion and accountability of his or her teacher, and we should expect nothing less than excellence from our teachers. This bill allows for a more market-based approach to teacher compensation, which is not unlike how virtually every small business across the country operates: reward good teachers and remove those who are low-performing."

Lisa Comment:

I invite anyone involved in making decisions that effect my career to come and spend one day teaching 21 kindergarteners. Maybe then they will understand what teachers really do!

Annoyed Voter Comment:

Are the Firefighters, Police, Military and other Civil Service next? Will law makers let the voters grade them and decide their retirement and salary? When those things happen I will support SB6. Until then SB6 is unfair, unbalanced and wrong for education and for our State.

NOTE: Wilson's title is CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. Fanfare and fancy titles aside, he is a lobbyist. In October 2009, he gave a speech about "making hard choices" at the Disney Yacht Club Resort in Lake Buena Vista, where rooms start at $340 and range upwards and upwards. Listed price range to dine at the Yachtman's Steakhouse is $36-$59.99 per person.

Here's more on SB 6.

Teachers protest to Charlie Crist about Senate Bill 6
by Melvin Beal

Spring Hill, Florida -- Pasco teachers are protesting several bills that could impact how they are evaluated on their jobs.

The teachers came to protest about several bills
floating through the legislature, but Senate Bill 6 has their immediate attention.

"It's kind of trying to limit everything that teachers can accomplish for a few bad teachers, versus all the good teachers we actually have in the state," said Jason Neuman, a teacher in Pasco County.

The teachers are protesting because they say if this bill is passed, it could impact more than fifty percent of their job evaluations and cut their salaries by half. All of this based on scores from a test like the FCAT.

"We need test scores, but it can't be the only measure of our success. Because something a teacher did might impact you 18 years later and that might be what career you choose," said Matthew Goldrick, a vice president with the United School Employees of Pasco County.

The United School Employees of Pasco County, and teachers from other Bay area counties, made a statement to Governor Charlie , who was in town for a fundraiser.

"I've dedicated my life to the children of Florida and to take away our retirement is not fair. It's like pulling the rug from right under you," said one teacher from Pasco County.

"If it gets to my desk, I will veto that bill," said Governor Charlie .

Crist said that education is a big priority during these tough economic times. "This is only the third week of the session. We're going to have time to review all of these bills, but I want to make sure teachers get what they deserve and students do as well," he said.

The 61-page bill also would require school districts to implement final exams for grade levels or courses not covered by the FCAT.

The Florida Education Association says the bill would reduce school districts' abilities to make decisions on the local level, by replacing those decisions by a one-size-fits-all plan mandated in Tallahassee.

Senate bill would tie teachers' pay to students' performance

by Katie Tammen
Daily News
March 11, 2010

[The newspaper site has lots of nasty public comments--if you can stand them.]

Florida Senate Bill 6 is not popular among local teachers, to say the least.

The education reform bill would eliminate existing teacher contracts and replace them with contracts that base more than 50 percent of a teacher̢۪s wages on student achievement.

Read a copy of the bill »

"It seems to me like it̢۪s a massive attack on teachers, and I don̢۪t understand the logic behind it," said Niceville High School teacher Richard Hernandez, who is a National Board Certified teacher with a master's degree in education.

Teachers unions across the state, including the Okaloosa County Education Association, have similar misgivings. They argue the bill is too broad and tramples on the rights of teachers.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, is intended to develop statewide teaching standards that will enhance students̢۪ education and reward great teachers, said Sen. Don Gaetz

"We need to pay effective teachers more money, and we need to find appropriate ways to get ineffective teachers out of the classroom, and we need to help teachers as much as we can become effective, and that̢۪s why Sen. Thrasher's bill carries with it some real value," said Gaetz, one of the bill's co-sponsors.

"The bill provides a landing zone for performance-based compensation four years from now," added Gaetz, R-Niceville. "There certainly is an understanding in the Senate that the process will undergo changes and that there will be refinements over time."

Gaetz said he supports the bill largely because when he was Okaloosa County's superintendent of schools, the pay system frustrated him because one of the only ways a teacher, even a very effective one, could get a raise was to get a year older.

Under the existing salary schedule for teachers, pay is based on several factors. They include classroom performance, years of experience and advanced degrees or training.

"Basing pay on how students perform leaves many factors out of teachers̢۪ control," said Linda Evanchyk, an English teacher at Choctawhatchee High School.

"We have too many elements out of our control to base (our pay) on that (student performance)," Evanchyk said.. "My thing is, do you base a doctor's salary on how many people don't die when he treats them?"

Hernandez echoed Evanchyk's concern. He said he worries that if the bill passes the Legislature, it might not take into account the many factors that affect how well students do on exams.

"I don't know too many other professions where my paycheck is based on how somebody else does," he said.

Exactly how teachers will be graded has not been determined. That will be ironed out later if the Legislature approves the bill, Gaetz said.

The other big problem with the bill, teachers said, is it removes two of the biggest incentives teachers have had to further their education: the Florida Teacher Scholarship and Forgivable Loan Program and the National Board Certification Program.

Under the certification program — the most prestigious certification available to teachers — educators spend a year making videos and writing papers about what they do each day in the classroom, and take half a dozen tests to gain the certification, said Evanchyk, who oversees the program in Okaloosa County.

The certification is good for 10 years. It also initially meant that teachers would get a 10 percent pay increase, she said.

That percentage recently dropped almost 2 percent, and now teachers are being told the state is dropping the program entirely.

"They've slowly taken it all away," Evanchyk said. "It was touted as this is the highest national accolade in our profession, and now it's just being tossed aside and it's insulting and disheartening."

In February, the school district hosted a ceremony for 13 teachers who had just received the certification. The county now has 130 National Board Certified teachers, and Florida is second to only North Carolina in the number of board certified teachers, Evanchyk said.

In a letter to Florida senators and Gov. Charlie Crist, Edge Elementary teacher Vicki Burger challenged the decision to eliminate the program and said Board Certified teachers already have brought about the changes this bill is seeking.

"National Board Certified teachers are the sparks that will ignite change in Florida̢۪s schools," she wrote. "(National Board Certified teachers) are actively involved in mentoring other teachers and are committed to students and their families, thus affecting students̢۪ progress."

Gaetz said losing programs said such as the National Board Certification troubles him, but he added that budget cuts must be made.

"This is not just a year in which the budget is tight, this is a year in which we've already had a revenue shortfall in the last two years of $7 billion, and this year we have another $3 billion shortfall and next year there is another expected $5 billion shortfall," he said. "The Florida Constitution, thankfully, does not allow deficit spending, so we have to reduce spending to match the revenues the state is collecting."

The Senate Education Committee voted 6-2 to pass Senate Bill 6 bill with eight amendments. The six senators who voted for it co-signed it are Republicans. The two who were opposed were Democrats from South Florida.

— Melvin Beal
WTSP News and Northwest Florida Daily News


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.