So every now and again I’m going to turn this little space over to a different voice, just for variety’s sake. Also, I sometimes feel lazy. Today, our guest blogger is the person whose face I always take glasses off of at night, after she has fallen asleep with them on (never figured out how a person can do that).
It’s about an issue near and dear to my wife’s heart: The veto of Senate Bill 6 here in Florida. This was a huge news story down here for weeks.
Take it way, Julie Lewis …
This past week, the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, vetoed a very damaging and potentially devastating education bill known as “Senate Bill 6.”
This bill proposed many, many changes to the current education system in Florida. Among these changes were the end of tenure for experienced teachers, the institution of merit pay based on test scores, evaluations for teachers that would be based 50% on a single test score, and the removal of a teacher’s certification if students in her class did not make yet-to-be defined learning gains 4 out of 5 years.
If a teacher did show learning gains, that teacher would be removed from her current school and placed into a school that did not show learning gains. And then have her certification removed if she did not show the same results as in her prior school. This bill did not take into account, at any point, communities, administration, the home life of a child, the class make-up, students who had any type of learning or medical disability or the economic status of the students.
This bill would have also eliminated paying teachers based on years of experience or advanced degrees. The legislature was determined to push this bill though without any input from teachers, parents, school boards or anyone else involved with education. For two weeks, regardless of party affiliation, over 20,000 people emailed the governor to ask him to veto this bill. He received over 18,000 phone calls and several thousand hand-written letters. I called, wrote, attended rallies and worked with a ball of lead sitting in my stomach as I contemplated how fast I would be able to move out of state and how long it would be before I was faced with the same asinine legislation in another state.
The state of Florida was deeply divided over this and had teachers already looking for work in other states. Now anyone who reads this blog knows that I am NOT a republican. (note from her husband: Yeah, she’s definitely not a Republican. If she were, we probably never would’ve ended up together).
I never voted for Charlie Crist and I never will, even as he runs for Senate against Marco Rubio (endorsed by the Tea Party people). But I have to say that this week, he earned a little of my respect.
He broke from the GOP and vetoed this bill because, among other reasons, he stated that this bill had been pushed through so quickly that there had been no time to listen to the people who were being affected. He recognized that there are factors other than the teacher which influence test scores and that test scores were not the be-all end-all to judging teachers. He stood in the face of what had become a witch-hunt and slapped back at it.
So Charlie, although I have never agreed with your politics, and I won’t ever vote for you, you listened to your constituents, you tried to hear what they had to say, and you rejected something which would have indelibly hurt that state of Florida and its students. Thanks. Now I can get back to teaching.
My take: It was a politically desperate move by Crist, since he’s going to run as an independent in the Senate race. But it was still the right thing to do.
And, since you need a laugh on a Sunday, check out this poor mascot’s accident at a Reno Aces game Wednesday night: (Don’t worry, Wolfie turned out to be OK).