Teachers Fight Against Merit Pay
The next test for the Florida "Student Success Bill" making its way through the capital is just days away. But although it already passed in the Senate, opponents are hoping it fails in the House.
Senate Bill 736 passed one test. Now it's up for a vote as House Bill 7019. The legislation, dubbed the "Student Success Bill," will tie teacher pay to student performance. Supporters say it will ensure Florida has the best teachers, but some say it will hurt education in the long run.
Alachua County Education Association President, Karen McCann said "Teachers absolutely feel like they're being attacked." McCan organized a protest in Gainesville last week against Governor Scott's proposed education cuts and this bill. Which McCann says will eliminate teachers' control over their own classrooms.
She said, "Essentially it's government take over of education. Teachers will be forced to teach for a test." The bill requires statewide end of the year exams in every subject that must be approved by the Department of Education. McCann said, "It takes away the creativity, it takes away the professionalism of a teacher to be able to understand what their individual classrooms really need and what individual students need to excel."
But supporters say it will provide accountability by determining the achievements of educators and will reward effective teachers.
Gainesville Tea Party President Laurie Newsome said, "What we have lost sight of is who makes those decisions? Who decides if the teacher is doing a good job? And who decides how much money she's going to get?"
McCann says teachers want evaluation, but this isn't the right kind. Another concern is elimination of tenure for new teachers hired after July first of this year. This bill is a large part of the education reform that legislators promised, but McCann believes it will be impossible to implement along with the proposed cut to education overall.
She said, "They say they have no money for education, it's a ten percent cut, but they millions and millions of dollars to spend on developing and grading a test in every subject? That doesn't make sense."
This Tuesday and Wednesday the bill will be up for discussion and vote in the House of Representatives. The bill is expected to pass and make it's way to Governor Rick Scott's desk, who has said he will sign it into law. But opponents are hoping their appeals will stop it.
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