Controversial Education Bill Passes Florida Senate

Senate Bill 6 passed 21-17 Wednesday morning, with all 13 Democrats and four Republicans voting against it.

The proposal ties a teacher's pay directly to student learning gains, rather than experience. It also replaces teacher tenure with yearly contracts.

Legislators say the changes are necessary if the state wants to receive money from the federal education grant competition called "Race to the Top."

Supporters say it will make it easier to reward good teachers and fire bad ones; but, local union reps say the plan destroys creativity in teaching.

"Children aren't widgets. You don't get one-size fits all into every hole. We have to mold kids, we have to take what we have, and build on what we have," said Yvette Griffin, executive director of Miracle Strip Service Unit. "If their intent was to run good, energetic, enthusiastic teachers out of the state of Florida, they're on a direct path to doing that. "

Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt told us he thinks portions of the legislation are unfair to teachers. The bill is expected to pass the Florida House.

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  • by Nick Location: FL on Mar 11, 2011 at 02:26 AM
    If we are going to approve this bill then lets add out politicians into the mix. Every time our government looses money in the budget senators and represenatives will now take a paycut. My wife is a teacher I am a hard core republican which she does not like but we still love each other I got to tell you i really do not see how this is possible to grade teachers on how students perform teachers only get these kids for less then 8 hours a day.
  • by DuhFlaLaw Location: Common Sense on Mar 10, 2011 at 06:43 PM
    The most obvious point and fact is here is that not one single one of the legislators have ever stepped inside a classroom and spent a day with a teacher! Here's the "hit the fan scenario": The state(No Child Left Behind) says improve eduction, improve test scores, graduation rates, and improve truancy, etc. Then they put it on the teachers' back to do it all. The teachers put the pressure on and work harder than ever. The teachers call parents over every little issue with the kids. The parents change phone numbers 2-3 times a year, get fed up with the aggrevation, then call their senators...who are also disgusted with all the aggrevation from their own kids' teachers calling them to get their kids to school. Don't punish the teachers, fix the 60 year old attendance laws!
  • by Ben Location: Erwin, TN on Mar 5, 2011 at 07:11 AM
    This is a "GENIUS" bill to save money! It will reduce costs (because it will reduce EDUCATION!!!). Perhaps 30% of FL teachers will quit and won't have to be paid. Class sizes will raise to 50 or 60, discipline problems will go up, test scores will fall. I'm sure this is what FL is looking for to "improve" education. I was a Chemical Engineer & gave up half my salary because I felt the "call" to teach. I now teach Chem. & Phys. in a rural part of East TN. I love my job & do not regret the transition. I've been in the business world & in education. You CANNOT run a school like a business. A business can just throw out any "bad products" or close entire "bad divisions" down. As teachers, we CANNOT throw out the lazy, low IQ, or poorly-parented "products". I will let the state reduce my pay for bad test scores, when I can reduce their pay for destroying our country! Bring it on legislators-I challenge you to a Physics problem, WINNER TAKE ALL! All you FL teachers just come to TN!!!
  • by Van Location: Jacksonville Florida on Apr 14, 2010 at 04:37 PM
    The Duval Co school board (where I know personally, several teachers) does not have suffecient funds to support the needed resources for the classrooms. As a result the teachers themselves buy the supplies, mainly because the parents cannot afford to send them. Also in a lot of these areas the parents don't have a good education themselves. It is a mater of them not being able to help with some or most of their childs homework. Most work low income jobs and can't afford to hire tuttors. So, now it comes down to what can the teachers do to help the students. Often twenty to fourty kids are cramed into one classroom. These kids have IQ's ranging from about 70 to about 110; and trying to reach ALL of them in classroom studies is almost impossible. Now, at the end of the day the teachers are trying to bring up the failing students just to help them pass. I feel teachers in low income areas will be punished by this bill. Would you want to teach in this type area or a high income area?
  • by Nick Schindler Location: Cape Coral, FLORIDA on Apr 13, 2010 at 06:19 PM
    Don't you think that the teachers have read the bill they are the ones that get payed to teach and studens in the state of Florida are really lazy which will inturn makes those good teachers that have lazystudents get fired maybe you weren't told that the teachers get fired if the students don't good on those tests from senate bill 4. I am 17 year old high school student that knows the facts more then the people out of state. The Floriada senate is going to decrease the teachers pay because the students get a B- for the end of the year exam that is going to replace the FCAT. The teachers that have worked for 30 years and have a pay of about $45,000 a year since they worked for 30 years, that B- will bring their pay down to about $35,000. Would you like to make $10,000 less a year or have an income of $0 a year cause the Florida senate wants a bigger pay check? No you wouldn't they get payed enough and teachers get under appreciated. They improve by teaching to student longer.
  • by Josh Location: Illinois on Apr 12, 2010 at 02:00 PM
    Doesn't anyone actually look at the content of the bill before posting comments? The bill provides that the pay is based on improvement. Therefore if you get a bunch of kids who can't even read, and you at least get some of them to read then you'll make more than the next teacher who doesn't even try. The test will be used as part of the grade so that students have incentive to try on the test rather than using it to torpedo a teachers salary. All you teachers who put in an heroic effort and tutor for free/ on lunch hour should love this bill as it rewards all your extra hard work. If a teacher fails to make educational gains for three consecutive years then they deserve to be fired because they are being paid based on relative gains. I agree that the system will need tweaks to work, such as adjustments for demograpics in order to work i.e. a teacher with a class full of spanish speakers may get a favorable weight to help overcome a relative disadvantage in teaching.
  • by Susan Location: Tallahassee on Apr 5, 2010 at 09:49 AM
    I have children in so called 'A' schools and guess what?I have to pay a math tutor for my high school student because his teacher is so bad. I even have to teach my elementary age child at home because he doesn't understand his teacher in school and gets yelled at if he asks questions. Under this bill, these teachers will be rewarded because lots of parents like me are paying out extra money for tutors and working with our children at home because we want our children to do well. This bill is not going to improve education in Florida.
  • by Teacher from Rural America Location: North Florida on Apr 3, 2010 at 06:55 AM
    As a third year teacher in a rural school district, I must agree with the comments of the teachers below. At the middle and high school level we have little control outside the classroom. Parents often wonder why their child is not performing. What do you do for them at home. I have a 7th grade honor students. His father and I spend several hours at home helping with homework and reviewing him for tests. If I did not take an interest in his education, he would be like many of my students who constantly fail tests and do not complete homework assignments. The elective officals want to hold us accountable, what about the parents and students. I for one work hard to ensure I am doing the best for ALL my students and to be paid based on students test scores who are suspended or absent is crazy. I could understand if I laid out of work and my students did not receive face time with me, but I can not teach a students that is not a school. Weigh all the variables.
  • by Jerry Location: PC on Mar 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM
    While at work, I had a discussion (sort of) with a 24 yr old today. She was completely enamored about ANTS; how they live, what cute little tunnels they make, etc. She said she owes it all to her high school teacher, who even poured wax down an anthill to show the pretty designs. (Her words, not mine.). She is a lifelong resident of Bay County, even going to college here. I somehow managed to turn the conversation around to world history and other subjects, but specifically, England's role in world colonization, and the impact it had on early and current American life. Sad to say, she was clueless... When questioned, she thought the HMS Bounty was some sort of Thanksgiving gift. So, I'd like to thank the school system for conditioning yet another obtuse individual to face the challenges of today. Guess my tax money was well spent on Ant Farming 101.
  • by Mimi Location: Miami on Mar 29, 2010 at 02:24 PM
    As we all know, there are few people that truly understand what goes on daily in a classroom. For those who think that it is a 8:00-3:00 job, shame on you. There are countless nights that I am up until the early hours of the morning grading papers, responding to e-mails, and searching for ideas that will motivate my students to learn. In addition, I tutor, for free, my struggling readers. I take time from my 30 minutes of lunch to assist students who did not understand a lesson. However, this bill is a slap in my face. It is telling me that all my hard work counts for nothing. All that matters is if a child passes a stupid test that looks more like an IQ test than a test that measures what a child knows. In addition, my school decided this year to separate classes by ability. How fair is this for a teacher who ends up with a class in which 95% of his/her students are reading below grade level. Whose fault is this??? This is not a realistic bill. Shame on all who voted for it.
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