Friday, March 31, 2017
A promising legislative session turns into another %$#^ show
I will admit, I was encouraged by this legislative session more than any other in memory. There were bills mandating recess, dramatically scaling back testing, increasing teacher pay and even putting some modest restrictions on charters. Sadly however most of those bills have petered out and the Florida legislative session has devolved into hurt kids, teachers and public education #$%^ show.
First there is recess which had 56 co-sponsors. With that many people behind it there was no way it could fail right? Well the house bill has gone from all elementary students getting 20 minutes of recess a day, to K-third grades getting it occasionally and to hell with 4th and 5th graders.
Next there is a union busting bill that overwhelmingly passed in the house. It states that union with less than 5o % membership would have to decertify and thus end collective bargaining. Oh police, fire and correction officers would be exempt meaning the bill really just effects teachers unions. The house routinely passes bills that seek to harm the teaching profession.
Then despite the fact hundreds of charter schools have failed wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and throwing tens of thousands of students and their communities into disarray and the fact as a group they don’t do any better than public schools. The legislature is seeking to expand them. Talk about political donations in action.
When the Florida House Education Committee meets Thursday, it will take up a proposal that could dramatically change the face of the state's public school system, opening it to more charter schools.
Finally, at the beginning of the session there was a push to increase teacher salaries, well that has devolved into a fight on how much to fund the best and brightest bonuses. The universally reviled and embarrassing system that awards teachers’ money on not how they did in the classroom but on how they did on the SATs.
was fast-tracked to the floor in the past three weeks, with only two committee hearings. It's unclear how fast the House will take up the bill; it could be as early as next week.
The expansion proposal allows more "highly effective" teachers and — for the first time — principals to qualify for an annual bonus. Instead of only using on the teachers' SAT or ACT scores from high school, teachers could qualify next year by also using graduate school entrance exam scores, like the GRE or the LSAT.
Democrats on the Appropriations Committee said they still don’t like the premise of rewarding teachers based on assessment scores and they want the Legislature to use the additional funding to instead find a way to raise the salaries of all teachers.
You know because BS bonuses for some just aren’t going to do the job.
I want to remind you that republicans have controlled both branches in the legislature and governor’s mansion for over 20 years and for the last 15 or so have done all they can do damage public education. Isn’t it past time we said no more?