Distaste is growing for the most controversial bill being debated this legislative session in Tallahassee. Some Republican lawmakers are now beginning to turn their backs on Senate Bill Six (SB6), which challenges teacher tenure and restricts union participation. Fueling the revolt is a measure in the legislation forcing schools to spend 900 million dollars on new tests.
Halfway through a campaign of protests, letters and committee stops teachers are beginning to influence the process. One of those is 5th grade teacher Amanda Babcock.
“We are reaching out our hands, but they have to meet us halfway.
Hundreds of thousands of letters asking lawmakers to nix Senate Bill Six are flooding offices. Democratic opposition has been strong from the get-go now some Republicans, like Rep. Julio Robaina of Miami, are bucking leadership and joining their ranks.
“I think leadership is the ones who are catching heat now, because they realize that some of us are compassionate Republicans and they do what’s right.”
The legislation eliminates tenure, bases pay on test scores, and bans new teachers from collective bargaining. It also forces schools to spend five percent of their budgets on developing new tests.
Wayne Blanton is the head of the Florida School Boards Association.
“Senate bill six does not give us any additional dollars. It’s a 900 million dollar mandate on schools statewide.”
The spending mandate would kick in 2011. Then in 2014, the five percent would be used to pay teachers based on their students’ test scores.
Governor Charlie Crist has received five thousand emails, and two-thousand phone calls from people opposing the legislation.
“As a former Commissioner of Education, I like the part of trying to have merit pay, I just hope we do it in the right way.”
It’s unlikely enough House members will vote against the bill to defeat the measure, but if enough voters tell Crist a yes on six is a no on his US Senate Campaign, a veto could be in the works
Legislative leaders don’t want a revote on the bill in the Senate, so they’re tying to fight off amendments, but the five percent spending mandate could garner enough opposition to pass an amendment in the House.