The following is my commentary to Representative Horner following his Orlando Sentinel Article from Today
Mr. Horner and others.
In response to your comments found within the article placed on the Orlando Sentinel Website, I would like to offer the following comments and questions.I am going to break down your comments from each paragraph and ask you to specify exactly what they mean, since you wrote them, and they seem to me, to be a stretch of the truthhttp://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-myword-pro-merit-pay-040710-20100406,0,5500260.story
Mr. Horner Stated: The first and most important element of this reform is increased pay for quality teachers. To achieve this worthy goal, the proposed bill does not reduce pay for any teacher in the state.
-Increased pay means that I would receive more pay and not a bonus check at the end of the year. You also stated quality teachers in this paragraph, yet have not outlined a quality teacher. Prior to passing a bill, would it not be worthy to state exactly what is a quality teacher?
Mr. Horner Stated: Instead, it invests in our most valuable asset — the thousands of great teachers in classrooms all over Florida — by dedicating roughly $900 million for pay raises to teachers who make the most progress with our students.
-Your thought is that only thousands would receive this money and not possible every teacher. In order to dedicate $900 million on the back end, what exactly is the benefit. You also state teachers who make the most progress, what about a teacher who helps make mild progress, is that not good enough? And if not, why? Adding to this, what about the teacher that has students missing, family problems, health problems, life problems etc, are you penalizing that teacher for those students. And yes Mr. Horner, I am stating students in plural as most often life does not affect just one student at a time.
Mr. Horner Stated:
The key word is "progress."
Teachers cannot control what a student knows when they enter a classroom on the first day. What we do expect, however, is that every child will leave a classroom knowing more than they did. Raises primarily will be based on demonstrated progress — not how much a student knows.
- A) Can we, the public and the teachers hold you to this comment. B) Again you don't state progress, can we get a specific tool to gauge what progress actually is? c) You state raises, and by definition this means it is a permanent structure. Raises and merit pay are two very different concepts, so which is it?
Mr. Horner Stated: The proposal does not remove tenure for the 175,000 teachers who already have it. Newly hired teachers will work under a commonsense evaluation system, which is based on classroom success, not on how long they have been in the system. Ending the practice of tenure is not an indictment of teachers; it is a statement that we are ready to start treating teachers like professionals by rewarding them for results — and not requiring retention of low-performing teachers.
-I would have assessed that as the congressman so involved in education you would have already known that there is not such concept as tenure for Florida teachers. In 1982 it was removed and a system of due process is in place. The legislature seems adamant that it is going to try and destroy unions, that people within it are blind to what the laws actually are. Perhaps your aides can do the research and you can read the specifics, yet tenure is and has already been removed. If you take the aspect of due process from a teacher, then you remove any possibility of humanity left within the position. You want classroom success, perhaps offer the classrooms the tools they need to be successful. We have students of 2010, and a budget to make it happen of 1980
Mr. Horner Stated:
A third critical component of these reforms is to financially prioritize high needs areas in order to attract top talent to those positions.
Currently Florida is experiencing a teacher shortage in our most challenging learning environments: math and science courses, lower-performing schools and classes with special-needs students.
Let's attract our best and brightest teachers to these positions by acknowledging the additional workload they take on, and reward them with higher salaries.
Although you arrive at this statement lightly based on statistics, I believe strongly that you are misguided. EVERY area needs financial reform, and within that concept, every area deserves to be considered. The United States rested on its laurels and assumed that people would just flock to the hard subjects. I agree with you that math and science is underrepresented , yet in order to get the brightest and most skilled teachers into this area, you have to create an environment that they feel welcome. Florida is now the laughing stock of the country due to these bills you are creating. You stress lower-performing schools..fair enough. Do yourself a favor and review if is the teachers, or perhaps the environment that needs to change. If it is the environment, start with the area these schools are in and go clean them up. Get more police and law support. Typically underperforming schools are also in poor neighborhoods. Create a family task force and get kids to school.
Mr. Horner. You publicly stated all of this in a newspaper article. I would ask that the House and Senate allow for people within the profession to sit with all of you and to discuss exactly what goes on in the field of education. Unions are not your enemy, statistics are. Education has opened its doors in many ways, that perhaps it should not have, to try and educate the masses. AP Classes of today are the honors classes of twenty years ago. Honors classes are what Standard education was 20 years ago. And Standard education of today is so dumbed down that newspapers write on a 6th grade level just so people can understand them. The job of the legislature is to validate educating the people, not forcing education to be dumbed down to meet goals that are socially ineffective.
I will meet with you and any other congressman and talk over all these topics. I have read both Senate and House bills, and understand how each of them impact me, have you read them in their entirety?