Race to the Top

Debate is raging tonight at the state capitol, as lawmakers battle over merit pay and the end of tenure for more than two hundred thousand teachers in Florida. Unlike last year, most teachers choose to stay home for this debate.

A thousand people in the State Capitol Courtyard Tuesday...but hardly a teacher among them. On the eve of one of the most important votes affecting their future, most Florida teachers chose to stay home.

Andy Ford is President of The Florida Education Association. “Our teachers are in the classroom, doing their job, and they are focused on preparing the kids for the FCAT next week. They aren’t going to be in Tallahassee and they know that.”

Their union is trying to mobilize opposition to a merit pay bill with this robo call. “And we should not punish our teachers when our schools are doing better than ever.”

We did find St. Leon College Associate Dean Trish Parrish walking the halls. She’s worried the legislation pigeon holes teachers in their specialty with no room for other advanced degrees. “Children are better served if those teachers can expand their knowledge by perhaps getting a masters degree in reading education, or a master’s degree in special education.”

The legislation would grade teachers on their students test scores and peer reviews. The bill’s sponsor, Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican, says it is time teachers join the rest of the world. “We’re literally talking about a system that has absolutely no assessment what so ever as to whether or not a teachers methodology of teaching, as to whether or not a teacher’s effectiveness is translating into learning growth.”

The legislation is performance pay in concept only. There’s absolutely no money here to pay teachers more.

The House is expected to cast a final vote on Wednesday. If there are no changes, it will go to the governor, who is expected to sign it.

The House is scheduled to meet until 11:45 tonight (Tuesday) and again tomorrow (Wednesday) for six hours of debate.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by marsha Location: Defuniak Springs on Mar 17, 2011 at 10:59 AM
    How much more money will our District(Walton) waste on stupid grading program that is not usuable or SMS attendance programs that not has issues! I am sure these programs both cost several thousand dollars!
  • by What a joke on Mar 16, 2011 at 05:52 PM
    Teachers in our county haven't been given a raise in 3 years because "they don't have the money". How are they going to pay teachers with merit pay more, when they don't even have the money to pay the normal step salary increase? And all the new assessments...where is the money going to come from to pay for the development and scoring of those? For those of you who think FCAT is bad, you haven't seen anything yet.
  • by Here's the real truth Location: Never gonna happen on Mar 15, 2011 at 04:12 PM
    State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, the sponsor of the House version of the bill, said the measure isn't telling school districts when they have to give raises. The evaluation and salary schedule must be in place, but raises are subject to available funds. "We're not saying how much," Fresen said during House debate on the proposal Tuesday. "We're not even saying when." Right from the horses mouth, the funding and implementation of merit pay is never going to happen. The purpose of this bill is simple, eliminate due process for teachers, and place them as at will employees with zero job security.
  • by It's the teachers fault Location: Floriduh on Mar 15, 2011 at 03:55 PM
    The Florida legislature has not and is not listening, that is the reason teachers are not in Tallahassee. The only reason they have scheduled debate is because the decision has already been made. There is absolutely nothing that anyone can say that would change these legislators minds. These republican politicians have been eagerly waiting to punish teachers with this "merit pay" since it was vetoed last year. Florida doesn't fund education now, and this proposal states they will pay better teachers more. Please, what a laugh.
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