Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Discussion of SB 736

The Following comments are a correlation from reading the FEA Frontline Report, The Tampa Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel
SB 736 Has been drafted as a teacher quality bill, yet if you read the bill closely, it is really a loosely disguised bill of unfunded mandates.

If the Legislature truly wants to reign in education and get a chance to start again, then perhaps it does need to speak directly with people who are in the classroom every day.
At the meeting, one of the Senators (Nancy Detert) shared with the committee that it is her opinion "
districts haven't removed bad teachers, even though they could have done so under current pay systems. "We had a process. You didn't have the courage to use it. With more than 90 percent of teachers earning good evaluations, yet many students still struggling on FCAT, something is amiss, she said. "We've started to forget what business we're in. We're not in the employment business. We're in the business of moving kids from point A to point B," (Detert)

Comments to the Senator:
1 – The concept of bad teachers, versus students who do not want to learn is extreme. Perhaps you may want to understand that students need to want to learn, in order for a teacher to teach. I would like you to come and spend a week teaching in my classroom, give the information and a test, grade it, then go back to the Senate and make your comments. I have a feeling that your viewpoint will change.

2 – A good teacher does not mean a student passes the FCAT. Darvin Booth commented that we should seek out all the reasons, not just a teacher, as to why a student fails. I promise you, that socio-economic, parental involvement, and student buy in all matter when seeking success. If none of the above happen, there is little you can do. Much like a business, if employees won't work, you fire them, yet we can't fire students, so we keep trying.

3 – I believe you and others in Tallahassee mistake education for what it is not. It is in fact a business, yet it is not following the corporate model. You employee many people, and this is important, since your employees are working to develop our future. These developers are given the task at hand, yet they cannot throw out the bad/bruised apples, they have to try their best to mold them back to being a workable, saleable item when they leave high school. You openly state that the business of moving kids from A-B is the point of this legislature and ultimately this bill. This is not an educated comment, if I may be so blunt. Our Job is to get kids from where they began, toward a working person who can survive in the world when they leave school. In this matter, we are developing people, not widgets. It is important to note that, since every person is different, and wants a different outcome. Many teachers try their best, yet we need the help of students, administrators, parents and the legislature to develop our youth, not contention.

To the committee that moved the bill SB 736 forward, and to the rest of the Florida Senate: There are many aspects within this bill that are not developed for the longevity of education.
Some of you have been teachers in the past, yet are not in the classroom anymore. Contact local teachers who have a vested interest in the success of our State, and consider listening to what they have to say.
You have a bill in front of you, yet you are not offering a funding mechanism in order to facilitate the growth of teachers. Your merit play concept is a play on words, and you added Race to the Top this year in order to facilitate those concepts. You have not talked of how to fund merit pay, and since prior merit programs have failed, create a system that cannot fail this time, or don't create one at all.

Within this bill, you give the Counties a chance to create their own mechanism for testing, and then later on go on to say it needs to be State approved. Two years ago you set out to create end of year exams, if this process is to be equitable, then end of course exams need to be consistent. Education deserves to be the largest investment you make at this time, since it is our future you are investing in. Rather than shy away from dollars for the schools, enhance budgets and adequately fund the schools. Then further develop your testing method, and create a system that teachers can meet.
The FCAT is a problem since the measure changes every year. The Legislators keep making education more difficult since they, they do not understand the principle of the profession. Teachers are not in the job of lawyers, accountants etc, they are simply teachers who enhance a child's base knowledge. Could they do a better job, some can. Could they do more with less, I don't think so.

To all the Legislatures, and specifically the Senators that should read this, this is your chance to make a proper bill, and fund it. Rather than simply say that bad teachers need to be gone, create a system which allows for the great teachers to shine and for the bad teachers to receive the necessary training to develop. If they do not…create a mechanism to force them out. I remind you all, there is no tenure in Florida, so stop using that as a carrot for the public.

Finally, this is the Senate of 2011 to make a true mark toward the future of our State. Ignore what our Governor is offering, it is a failure. Be the future, and put your names on an amended bill that the field of education will be proud to work under. I am open to answering questions, and offer my classroom to any of you, at any time.

Thank you

Senate committee substitute bill at:

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