by Rita Solnet
As promised, here’s what happened in the past three, sad, never-to-be-forgotten weeks in Florida as it relates to public education.
SB 736 ENACTED:
1) Teachers will have 50% of their evaluations based on student’s standardized test scores (FCATs).
This is effective immediately and impacts every teacher. Anyone who does not teach Reading or Math will receive a score based upon a calculation of all the teachers. So, to be clear, teacher’s salaries, their ability to be re-hired for one more year, their colleagues’ jobs and the opening or closing of your school itself all fall on the shoulders of that child taking that one test, that one day. How’s that for high stakes for the teachers?
2) This Merit Pay Bill was a moneyless bill.
Legislature admitted they have no money to fund the merit pay. (Yet they still claim they are ‘rewarding effective teachers!’)
3) New standardized tests will be created for every course taught- bill states 1,000 new tests to be created.
Important to note: The State does not fund the creation of these new tests. Each new test is estimated to be between $1M – $1.5M. Taxpayers will be burdened with this mandate.
4) All new teachers, hired after July, will be placed on a one-year contract which must be renewed annually.
Teachers must earn the right to be re-hired every year. This goes for seasoned, veteran teachers who move from one FL District to another FL District as well. They will fall under this rule.
5) In 2014, all Florida teachers will have two choices. Lethal injection or bullet (couldn’t resist!)
All FL teachers must choose either to: A) stay with their current contracts and accept the high probability of never receiving another raise again; or, B) opt to go on the one year contract which must be renewed every year contract.
How’s that for job security?
6) Effective July, teachers will no longer be paid at a higher rate for a Masters Degree even if it is earned in the subject they teach.
7) Effective July, teacher seniority is eliminated. This will be important when layoffs occur. No more Last In, First Out with layoffs. Soon, we’ll have armies of underpaid newbies driven by data in order to retain their underpaid job.
I hasten to add a few more important points. Most of FL’s 67 School Districts have already discussed a longer workday for teachers. Pay will remain the same. Florida teachers already receive $5,700 less per year than the national average; and $6,300 less than its neighboring state, Georgia. Florida has had a difficult time recruiting teachers for the past five (5) years already.
Can you hear the stampede of teachers flocking to Florida now? All of this will really solve the recruiting problem, won’t it? But, I digress.
OTHER EGREGIOUS FL LEGISLATION IMPACTING OUR CHILDREN, OUR SCHOOLS
8) Unions are not permitted, now by Florida law, to collect teacher’s dues from their paychecks.
9) Governor Scott proposed a bill which will order 105,000 state employees (including teachers) to endure mandated urine/blood drug tests. Guess he found money for that. Note: FL Governor owns Solantic Clinics.
10)Governor and the Republican legislature advanced another bill which will attempt to split the Florida Supreme Court into two courts and give the Governor the sole power of appointing FL Justices.
11) Governor last week proposed putting all FL Judges on merit pay–the more cases they take and clear, the more money they will make. (Imagine the dynamic this will set up? )
12) FL Governor invoked his emergency powers to order an immediate rollback of payment for the developmentally disabled. (Autistic, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, all developmentally disabled — impacting an estimated 40K individuals minimally.) This is sickening–he invoked an emergency order Friday to stop payments and reduce theiralready insufficient funds another 15%.
13) FL Gov informed the State he is expanding the Charter School program. The new bill will allow Charter Schools far fewer restrictions to become a charter. They can bypass the School Districts/School Boards entirely and they can be given a 15 year contract.
At the same time they take away job security, seniority and bargaining rights from teachers, this Governor and legislature crafts 15 year “stability” contracts for charter schools along with our tax dollars.
Merit Pay with no money attached. Strip seniority, bargaining rights, security for public school teachers who teach 95.5% of the children in this state. HOW DOES ANY OF THIS IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION?
Welcome to the Sunshine State! Sorry to say I wept as I typed this.