Dueling Editorials: Two Views Of Education Bill

Democrats and some Republicans say the education bill that the House passed Thursday will ruin Florida’s public school system.

The Republican legislative leaders say it is needed reform.

Newspaper editorial boards are split.

Here are editorials distributed by the the House Majority and Minority news offices.  You probably can tell which one was distributed by which office.

If you can’t, the first news release was from the Democrats.  The second from the Republicans.

Here they are:

An Arrogant Attempt To Reform Schools (SB6) —A Times Editorial—In Case You Missed It‏
From: Offline Hollis, Mark (Mark.Hollis@myfloridahouse.gov)
Sent: Thu 4/08/10 10:18 PM
To: Hollis, Mark (Mark.Hollis@myfloridahouse.gov)


A St. Petersburg Times Editorial


An arrogant attempt to reform schools

Published Thursday, April 8, 2010

Florida needs to change how it pays and evaluates teachers so the best are rewarded. It needs to make it easier to fire bad ones. But the bill approved by the Florida House on Thursday and sent to Gov. Charlie Crist’s desk is an arrogant attempt at reforming public school classrooms. On style points alone, the Florida Legislature has earned a failing grade.

The last insult came Thursday when House Republican leaders — despite a week of protests by teachers from Pensacola to Fort Myers — rammed the bill (SB 6) through their chamber, suppressing efforts even from members of their own party to make even minor changes to the plan.

This was a rush job. The most radical overhaul of teacher employment rules in more than a generation was introduced early last month by the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. In the House, the first of just two committee stops was only two weeks ago.

Finally, lawmakers failed to convince the public school community that this was a good idea. Nor did they respond to the bill’s glaring shortcomings — including failing to define how the state would measure student learning gains, which would be the basis for teacher evaluations and pay increases. Even the Florida School Board Association, no friend of the teachers’ union, has criticized the plan.

When voices of concern were raised, Republicans did not listen. When suggestions for improvements were offered, they did not care. When teachers protested, they did not see. Republican lawmakers claimed victory Thursday, but they won no friends in the classroom.


Mon, April 12, 2010 10:00:25 AM ***ICYMI*** FLORIDA’S BOLD MOVE

From: House Majority Office <HseMajorityOffice@myfloridahouse.gov>Add to Contacts

***In Case You Missed It***

The Chicago Tribune


April 12, 2010

Florida’s bold move

In the wee hours of Friday morning, long after most of us were asleep, Florida’s lawmakers made dramatic changes to their state’s education system. They took reform to a new level.

The most significant piece of legislation eliminates tenure protection for teachers. Newly hired teachers would work on an annual contract that can be renewed each year. The bill also does away with lockstep annual raises. Teachers’ pay no longer would be bumped based simply on how long they’ve worked, and how many graduate degrees they’ve obtained. Instead, their pay would depend on the achievement of their students. The more improvement their students make in the classroom, the more money teachers take home. Already tenured teachers keep their job protection.

The legislature’s move has teachers unions up in arms. Andy Ford, the president of the Florida Education Association, told Education Week that his group would work to shake up the make-up of the legislature. “We’re looking toward the November elections, where we’d repeal and reform the legislation, if we can change some seats in the Senate and the House,” Ford said.

Despite enormous pressure, legislators have sent a message that they’re committed to breathtaking reform. Their boldness is refreshing, a template we hope Illinois emulates.

Florida finished fourth in the first round of Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s challenge grant intended to spur reform. That’s one spot ahead of Illinois. In its Race to the Top application, Florida said participating school systems would base layoffs more on teacher effectiveness than on seniority.

Now lawmakers there have pushed through wholesale changes in the way teachers are evaluated and rewarded for their work.

Gov. Charlie Crist, who initially indicated he would sign the bill, is waffling. Crist, who is running in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate against Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, told reporters on Friday that he hasn’t decided if he will sign the legislation. Top lawmakers could wind up negotiating some changes with the governor.

But how refreshing it is to see a legislature act with such conviction to shake up the status quo!

Illinois is making some progress, but change here is still coming in fits and starts. There’s plenty of work to be done to improve the environment for charter schools, to overhaul teacher tenure, to assure the success of turnaround schools, to see that good teachers are led by excellent principals.

Florida, bravo! You’re forcing real change. Let’s hope people in Illinois learn something.



One Response to “Dueling Editorials: Two Views Of Education Bill”

  1. T. R. says:

    The teachers union refusal to see reality contributed to the success of this bill.

    It is time for a change. This will get bad teachers out of the school!