Education Bill Debate

Halfway through a campaign of protests, letters and committee stops, teachers are beginning to influence the process.

“We are reaching out our hands, but they have to meet us halfway,” said Amanda Babcock, a 5th grade teacher.

Hundreds of thousands of letters asking lawmakers to nix Senate Bill Six are flooding offices.

Democratic opposition has been strong from the get-go now some Republicans are bucking leadership and joining their ranks.

“I think leadership is the ones who are catching heat now, because they realize that some of us are compassionate Republicans and they do what’s right,” said Representative Julio Robaina.

The legislation eliminates tenure, bases pay on test scores, and bans new teachers from collective bargaining.

It also forces schools to spend five percent of their budgets on developing new tests.

“Senate bill six does not give us any additional dollars. It’s a 900 million dollar mandate on schools statewide,” said Wayne Blanton, The President of the Florida School Boards Association.

The spending mandate would kick in 2011.

Then in 2014, the five percent would be used to pay teachers based on their students’ test scores.

Governor Charlie Crist has received five thousand emails, and two-thousand phone calls from people opposing the legislation.

“As a former commissioner of education I like the part of trying to have merit pay, I just hope we do it in the right way,” said Crist.

It’s unlikely enough House members will vote against the bill to defeat the measure… but if enough voters tell Crist a yes on six is a no on his US Senate campaign, a veto could be in the works.

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