Governor Crist Shows Apparent Deference to Teachers Unions

Florida’s governor has just made a very poor decision. He has vetoed a bill which would have brought a remarkable level of accountability to Florida’s public school teachers. Here’s the skinny:

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist announced shortly after noon today that he had vetoed the controversial merit pay bill that would end tenure for public school teachers and base future pay raises mostly on student test scores.

“This bill is contrary to my firmly held principle to act in the best interest of the people of Florida,” Crist said. “It is the right thing to do.”

In vetoing the bill (SB 6), Crist attacked its most monumental change in the system: a plan to eliminate multi-year contracts for teachers, commonly known as tenure, and replace it with annual deals.

Further down in the article, the governor talks about how the bill was rushed through and that it was not created with input from all of the participants, etc.

Here’s the thing, though, Florida legislators have been working toward this point for about 10 years now. For the governor to claim that it was rushed through and that this is too much too soon is disingenuous at best.

Governor Crist has known exactly what was going on with this and has known for a long, long time. The real issue is that he is not truly interested in seeing what new things (such as incorporating “pay for performance” criteria for teachers) might be able to increase the capabilities of Florida’s public school system. Rather, the governor couches his veto behind “act[ing] in the best interests of the people of Florida” while he seeks to continue a system which has been shown to work against the best interests of the citizens of Florida–though not the teachers unions.

It should be remarkably apparent to all Floridians who believe in achievements which are based on merit that Crist will not be the one to champion that principle from the governor’s office.

2 thoughts on “Governor Crist Shows Apparent Deference to Teachers Unions

  1. I’m sorry, but merit pay for teachers is a really, really awful idea. Tying teacher salaries to test scores will only make teachers focus only on teaching the kids how to pass tests and nothing more. They’re already doing some of that because of No Child Left Behind and it’s screwing up our kids’ education.

    Plus, student perforance is not the best gauge of a teacher’s performance. Some excellent teachers might struggle with certain kids for a variety of reasons. I think it would be wrong and immoral to penalize them for something out of their control. And that would motivate people to stop teaching troubled children who have difficulty learning.

    So I’m glad Crist vetoed that legislation. Florida is better off without it.

    1. Haggs,

      One approach to increasing test scores is to teach the test–the other one is to ensure that the students actually know the material.

      If student performance is not a good gauge of a teacher’s performance, it is difficult to know what would be. I’m sorry, but I’ve never had an excellent instructor who struggled with certain kids to the point where the entire class was negatively affected. Either the kids quit causing problems, changed their minds, started learning or something else happened which allowed the class to move forward. That is what happens with excellent teachers–they figure out how to get the job done. Of course, I’m using the term “excellent” to refer to teachers whose students actually learn the material being taught. How else will I know that they are excellent?

      Regarding those who teach those who have difficulty learning (special needs students, let’s call them) one would think that a school would be smart enough to implement a different definition for performance which was suited to the context. The bottom line is that despite working with students who have difficulties learning (such as a good friend of my with dyslexia) a good, dare I say “excellent” teacher figures out how to maximize the learning possibilities.

      Florida, I’m sad to say, looks like it would be better without Crist.

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