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Teachers’ union, state in skirmish over merit pay bill

by John Kennedy | May 30th, 2012

A preliminary round in a larger fight over legislation that rewrote how teachers are paid and retained across Florida was waged Wednesday — with the state’s largest teachers’ union seeking to block a proposed Education Department rule  on evaluating educators.

The Florida Education Association argued before Administrative Law Judge John Vanlaningham that the state agency has exceeded its authority with how it wants school districts to evaluate teachers for merit pay.

In the complaint, the FEA and two teachers, Karen Peek and Beth Weatherstone, say the proposed “unlawfully sets a few DOE bureaucrats up to interpret, interpolate, and extrapolate the meaning of the extensive jargon it includes.”

State education officials defend the proposal as “not arbitrary or capricious.” They also say the proposed rule is written in the common language of the education community. It does not violate the statute created by the 2011 legislation, SB 736, they add.

The measure eliminating longtern contracts for new hires and linking teacher salaries to student performance was the first bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

The governor, who had been opposed by the FEA in his 2010 campaign against Democrat Alex Sink, said the new law would help improve student and teacher performance, and help create jobs by making Florida more attractive to businesses.

Democrats condemned the legislation for tying teachers’ pay increases to how students do on standardized tests.

They warned it will require county school boards to divert dwindling school dollars to more testing in elective fields where such tests often are not currently administered.

Along with challenging the proposed rule for evaluating teachers, the FEA last September sued to have the new law thrown out as an unconstitutional restriction on the union’s right to collective bargaining.

The case possibly could go to trial this summer before Leon County Circuit Judge James Shelfer.


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11 Responses to “Teachers’ union, state in skirmish over merit pay bill”

  1. jeff Says:

    The law and evaluation tool are demoralizing to teachers (and other staff being evaluated by it). While teachers should be held accountable for academic gains, tying raises to a poorly written test/ FCAT is ridiculous. I am a good educator who was rated above average with the new system, but the tool has created a toxic work environment in an already stressful profession. I am looking to re-locate back to New England where teachers are treated professionally. I am sure that I am not the only one to bail on Florida, which will be a loss to Florida’s students…Thanks Mr. Scott for making Florida education toxic, while welcoming Pearson (the company that makes FCAT)with open arms on other such education contracts for remediation and EOC’s (End Of Course exams).

  2. Ms Vicky Says:

    You are surely not alone, Jeff. The governor has shown hostility towards, and disrespect for, Florida’s education and educators from Day#1.It is true that the system needs some work, as all systems do, but the legislators and educators should have joined hands in coming to good solutions for Florida’s children. Instead, our governor has placed the heavy boot of authoritarian tyranny on the backs of educators and created an environment that is a losing proposition for all. Ultimately, the best teachers will leave, and it will take a decade to undo the malevolence this governor and legislature have created. Remember, though, Scott has trampled over the rights of the entire working middle class in Florida. He has also harmed our fire fighters and police, and he is going to have to answer for this. Just Wwatch what happens this November and the next: You may have cause to celebrate after all!

  3. Biased Media Says:

    The neglectful Palm Beach Post fails to mention that Merit Pay for Teachers comes from on high…the President of the United States, Barack Obama, stated explicitly, that he favors Merit Pay for Teachers.

    Amazing how that fact is always ‘overlooked’ in reports and articles. If you go on Utube and put in Obama Merit Pay for Teachers you’ll see Barack plainly talking about Merit Pay.

    Obama’s Race To The Top INCLUDES Merit Pay for teachers.

    In addition, President Obama sent his children to a CHARTER SCHOOL rather than his neighborhood public school.

    The media just doesn’t give all the facts. It dumps on Republicans and neglects democrats. That’s is unfair and biased and slanted reporting.

  4. Ms Vicky Says:

    I’m glad you tag yourself “Biased Media” because, apparently, that’s exactly what YOU are! I checked out the site you mention, along with many other sites that explain Obama’s concept for “Merit Pay.” Unlike Governor Scott’s punitive concept of denying decent salaries to teachers, based on the results of (worthless) testing, Obama’s plan is to REWARD teachers who excel in their field. This does not include punishing teachers who happen to be assigned students who will not, or cannot, excel. There is a WORLD of difference between Obama’s plan and Governor Scott’s plan, but you would need to be a critical thinker to understand this. Biased, YOU are obviously not!

  5. Ms Vicky Says:

    P.S. I would hope that EVERYONE reading this would go to the site that Biased Media suggested: UTube Obama on Merit Pay
    This is a classic example of how “Biased” people will attempt to twist a point and obfuscate the truth. Obama clearly wants to work WITH and FOR teachers, but check this out for yourselves.
    Biased, you have been CAUGHT in a lie. We are far too sharp for you and your “bias” non-sense. What do you have to say for yourself?

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  9. Ms Vicky Says:

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