Mailed to the Governor and member of the press 04/13/2010
Governor Crist, et al
In reading the rhetoric that was written within the Orlando Sentinel article on April 13th titled "Merit pay frenzy: 'I've never seen it this intense,' Crist says"
I choose to write and question some of the comments which are being made by members of the Jeb Bush foundation.
1)"Patricia Levesque, executive director of Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, agreed. "We're thankful that Gov. Crist has supported these issues in the past, and we're looking forward to his support this week," she said.
The angry outpouring from teachers, Levesque added, has been the result of a union-driven campaign using misleading information. "They've been very active in making sure that their membership gets information that is slanted in the direction that they believe."
- Mrs. Levesque is using words which are clearly not true. Perhaps it would be in her best interest to read the bill in its entirety through the lens of someone that is not involved in politics. Unions are not the ones pushing around the rhetoric. The Jeb Bush plan for merit pay failed once already, and this plan is more hazardous than the last one. Jeb Bush is pushing his agenda, through his organization, which itself is not sharing the truth.
At this site, the Foundation states:
Myth: This reform is a purely partisan effort.
Fact: Both Democrats and Republicans are advocating for the use of student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. Reforms advocates include President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Gates Foundation. Florida's business community has called on the Legislature to act on these issues. In their report Closing the Talent Gap, the Florida Council of 100 and the Florida Chamber of Commerce called for these reforms. The Florida Senate issued Interim Study 2010-213 studying teacher quality in 2009.
My Fact: Advocating Test scores has been shown to be the worst measurement for teacher effectiveness, as students have differing levels of abilities. In order for this process to work, there needs to be a pre-post test which is only measurable from creating a standardized test which is valid and reliable. There also needs to be measures in which students are monitored for a slew of environmental factors which are not part of just one teacher's control. Therefore the government, including Arne Duncan are learning from previous administrations that solely testing students is not the best method of measuring either teacher or student.
Fact: Including Business' which are for profit agencies in the field of education will not help, and there is no proof that it will help. You want more money, let them become sponsors of schools, and that is all they need to be part of
Myth: The bill eliminates tenure in Florida.
Fact: The bill doesn't eliminate tenure for teachers in the classroom today. The courts have determined that tenure is a property right and can't be taken away by the Legislature. The bill does end the practice of granting lifetime guarantee of employment after just three years in the classroom. Instead, new teachers will have annual performance contracts.
My Fact: There is no current tenure in the State of Florida. There is a professional contract. I would have assumed Jeb Bush to remember this. Your sites states attracting teachers, yet without job security of any kind, teachers won't come, and current teachers may leave to other States. This is your rhetoric which to teachers equates to a lie
Myth: Annual tests are not a good measure of teacher effectiveness.
Fact: Annual tests are an objective measure of the knowledge and skills students gain from one year to the next. If you believe teachers impact how much a student learns, then annual tests that measure progress are an objective measure of their effectiveness in the classroom.
My Fact: Using this concept, that means that classes that have no prior knowledge base are not going to be part of this program, which covers most courses throughout education, as classes have become progression and not repetition. Therefore this is another concept of rhetoric. Objective tests are neither valid or reliable, and therefore not a manner to show the effectiveness of a teacher.
On other aspects of the Jeb Bush Republican belief concept, your idea's are not sound. You have beliefs and have been pushing them for years. You state that the people who work hard deserve money, and that people who work in low income schools work harder than teachers from high income schools. Where is your research in this? That is more rhetoric that I will state is a bold face lie.
There is a lot more that you as a group are lying to the public about. You share with the governor of Florida that because he once agreed with Merit he must do the same now, well Ex Governor Bush, you once believed in telling the truth, is this something you still care to do now.
I offer you a pledge, you come work in my classroom as a teacher for a year. Do what I do and I will do what you do. Perhaps I can offer the people of Florida the truth about education after I travel around the State on funded monies that private corporations pay you. I can then offer a true testament of education, and ignore that these people who gave me money desire the result they are paying me for. When the year is over we can compare notes, and levels if stress etc. I will put my money on the table that in the end you learn far more and change your mind far more than I do.
Governor Crist, the teachers are not simply listening to the Unions. They are reading the bill, and listening to each other. They are listening to the news. They are listening to people with far more experience who desire an outcome that is fair. As a Republican I believe in the concept of small government, and appropriate financial balancing. Merit pay is a desire of a few people with corporate ties. Your constituents are not stupid, and they deserve to be listened to. Please do the proper thing and Veto this bill.
Then when that is done, create a Task Force which will be filled with teachers, professors and other educational specialists who can create a true equitable program for all.
Thanks for listening and understanding that teachers are educated and can read between the lines