Teacher pay and tenure reform bill moves forward in Florida

The Miami HeraldMarch 16, 2011 

Opponents tried one last time — and failed — to make changes to a bill that would dramatically reform the way public school teachers are evaluated, paid and hired. Now the fast-track legislation is one step away from the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, who has indicated he will sign it.

The Florida House moved along Senate Bill 736, which would tie teacher pay to student test scores, eliminate so-called tenure for new hires as of July 1 and end layoffs based on seniority. The chamber will take a vote on the proposal Wednesday afternoon.

“There is one thing that is conclusive on all sides of all educational research, and that is that teacher effectiveness is the most influential school-level variable that determines student learning,” said Rep. Erik Fresen, the Miami Republican who pushed for the legislation in the House.

His Democratic colleagues who oppose the proposal questioned how the state would pay for the bill’s provisions, particularly the development of exams and other criteria to evaluate teachers. Fresen said most of the funding would come largely from Race to the Top, the $700 million competitive grant the state won from the federal government last year.

Democrats also said they fear teachers on annual contracts would not have job security even if they receive favorable evaluations. Rep. Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg suggested an effective teacher whose contract may not be renewed could be “blacklisted” and find it difficult to land another teaching position.

“What’s the actual impact on that teacher for purposes of trying to get a job at another school, at another district?” he asked.

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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