‘Sucker-punch to the gut’ of teachers or visionary reform? Crist has seven days to pick a side on teacher tenureby Dara Kam | April 9th, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist has a week to decide if the controversial teacher merit pay bill is a “sucker-punch to the gut of the teaching profession” or a visionary reform now that SB 6 has reached his desk.
The “teacher tenure” bill poses a conundrum for the U.S. Senate candidate framed in the old Pete Seeger union song, Which Side Are You On?
The self-described “People’s Governor” is facing mounting pressure from fellow Republicans to sign SB 6 into law and from Democrats demanding that he kill the bill.
Crist originally said he thought the merit-pay proposal was a good idea. But after tens of thousands of teachers, parents and students inundated lawmakers’ offices and his own with phone calls and e-mails blasting the plan, his enthusiasm may be waning.
“The more you listen, the more you learn,” Crist told reporters Thursday morning. “There are things I like and things that give me some concern,” in the bill. “I’m listening to the people of Florida — my boss.”
After the House passed the bill at 2:30 this morning, Speaker Larry Cretul urged the governor to keep his word.
“I believe we have passed legislation this morning that is important,” Cretul, R-Ocala, said. “It is legislation I believe the governor should want to sign. I take him at his word that he will.”
But even before the measure reached Crist’s desk shortly after noon today, Democrats ramped up demands that Crist to put his red pen to use.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat running to replace Crist, called on the governor to “stand with the people of Florida against this attempt by Tallahassee politicians to take control away from our local schools.”
Her campaign this morning launched an online petition for Floridians to sign to request the veto.
Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson said in a statement “our governor needs to stand his ground” and veto the bill Lawson called a “sucker-punch to the gut of the teaching profession.”
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