State Teachers Union Fighting Merit Pay at Hearing

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, FL -- May 30, 2012 --

The Florida Education Association took Florida's new merit pay law to the courts on Wednesday.

An administrative law judge started a two-day hearing on the statewide teachers union's objections to the controversial measure, which links paychecks to student performance.

The law was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist, who said, "The bill does encroach on local decision-making."

Then it was signed by Gov. Rick Scott, but only after undergoing major changes, including more buy-in from local school districts.

"We didn't go in and count chicken eggs and other kinds of things," Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, said. "What we did was, we put the framework, so the school districts would be involved in this. This is not coming top-down from the Department of Education."

But Florida's teacher union complains that top-down is exactly how merit pay is being run, and so the union is asking a judge to strike down a 13-page evaluation checklist.

Right now every Florida teacher's paycheck depends on that checklist, and local schools have no power to add or remove questions.

"They say it means, 'whatever we think needs to be put in that in our opinion would make teachers more effective,'" attorney Tony Demma said. "In our assessment, they've gone beyond what the statute authorized."

So even if a principal thinks a teacher may excel in an area not covered in the checklist, it wouldn't count.

Kathy Hebda with the Department of Education helped put the checklist together with one goal.

"By way of helping districts focus on things that, because of the purpose of the evaluation system, to improve student learning, to focus on those things that would promote that very thing," she said.

The number one factor in the teachers' evaluations continues to be student performance on the FCAT.

The union says at the very least, local districts ought to be able to come up with other individualized criteria, like how much enthusiasm a teacher might bring to their lessons.

The judge in the case is expected to rule within 30 days.

The state teachers union is filing another lawsuit aimed at striking down the entire merit pay law.

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  • by Dale Location: Tallahassee on May 31, 2012 at 02:46 PM
    I would like to see the members of the legislatures compensation tied to the results of the FCAT.
  • by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 at 06:53 AM
    Of course the union is fighting merit pay. The teachers of 50 or 60 plus years ago were judged on the performance of their students. Would not this be what is being proposed by this law and why do we even need a law like this in the first place? Aren't we always judged by the quality of our product? This being what it is, there has to be factored in, the innocent teacher who gets the incoming class full of 'can't even learn to read and write' 'slobs' who are going to be a severe problem and not because of any fault of their current teacher. In years gone by, entire groups of these 'slobs' did not exist. There were always some students who were better students than others but that's the way it always will be. This current 'slob' group in my opinion is the problem (to a point) but the innocent teachers will continue to get judged and thus hammered by the non performance of these 'slobs'. No government will ever figure out the 'slob' problem, so they better figure out a good way to factor it in when grading good teachers who get overloaded with the 'slob' group.
    • reply
      by Frank on May 31, 2012 at 09:12 AM in reply to
      Until schools are allowed to hold students back until they can read, write, and do math, the next year's teacher will be dreading the incoming class that contain these 'slobs'.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 at 11:09 AM in reply to Frank
        communist doctrine requires all kids to get educated.....kick 20 percent out and watch us soar
        • reply
          by Gerry on May 31, 2012 at 05:06 PM in reply to
          You are so right. We spend more on special education than any other country and less on gifted. Kids don't want to be there and don't want to learn and we are hiring police officers and buying metal detectors....
        • reply
          by Not_Parsons on May 31, 2012 at 06:31 PM in reply to
          Communist doctrine? Two strong proponents of public education were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Here is an excerpt from a letter by Adams: “…the Whole People must take\upon/ themselvs the Education of the Whole People and must be willing to bear the expences of it. there should not be a district of one Mile square without a school in it, not founded by a Charitable individual but maintained at the expence of the People themselv[s]” Here is an excerpt from one of Jefferson’s letters to Joseph Cabell: "Now let us see what the present primary schools cost us, on the supposition that all the children of 10. 11. & 12. years old are, as they ought to be, at school: and, if they are not, so much the work is the system; for they will be untaught, and their ignorance & vices will, in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences, than it would have done, in their correction, by a good education." These two believed firmly that education is necessary to build and maintain a democracy. Democracy is more likely to fail without public (and continued personal) education. Qui legit regit!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jun 1, 2012 at 05:32 AM in reply to
          To Gerry, gifted programs are classified as special education in Florida, so they actually get the same amount of money.
  • by LOL@union thugs Location: tally on May 31, 2012 at 04:13 AM
    Of course they're fighting this; the stuff you're kid is being taught has nothing to do with his education. The kids are failing because teachers are teaching liberal ideologies and opinions behind closed doors. They're creating occupiers.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 31, 2012 at 09:17 AM in reply to LOL@union thugs
      LOL @ LOL@union thugs! They aren't allowed to teach anything but the FCAT! We all know how that's working out.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 1, 2012 at 05:35 AM in reply to LOL@union thugs
      That's interesting, I must have missed that Indoctrination 101 seminar last summer. But of course you've done extensive research into the curriculum articulation and standards, and I'm sure you've studied the scope and sequence of the materials taught.
  • by Oracle Location: Delphi on May 31, 2012 at 03:15 AM
    I guess the teacher's union could be more obtuse, but I don't see how......everything that is wrong with unions and education is here for all to see.
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