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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Teacher pay: Of kryptonite and silver bullets


"SB 6 being revised; no sponsor yet," is a headline that speaks volumes.
It seems that the only people who are truly interested in re-mixing this highly controversial teacher pay legislation are people who haven't been elected to anything, at least not lately.

But unlike last session, this year former Gov. Jeb Bush has come out of the closet by advertising his foundation's role in backing the ultimately vetoed bill.

Our elected representatives are wise to proceed cautiously. If they were smart, they'd go ahead and proclaim victory in achieving progress on pay-for-performance.

Whether you love or hate state Sen. John Thrasher, whether you were for or against his strong-arm push on SB 6, Thrasher should get credit for waking up Florida's parents and teaching professionals.

His efforts on this front helped generate unprecedented headlines, public discussion and citizen activism on public education.

Thrasher - with help from his opponents - set the stage for stakeholders across the state to collaborate on Florida's successful Race to the Top 2 application, which they did, after the bill was vetoed.

Among the architects of the statewide Race to the Top blueprint was Duval County School Board Chairman W.C. Gentry.

This should address most of the elements included in SB 6.
The Legislature should step back and allow the vital local collective bargaining processes to work to bring home critical Race to the Top dollars, and to benefit students.

Teachers across Florida are now examining their contracts with an eye toward a pay-for-performance plan that turns on student performance. Now is the time for them to hash out the details with their elected school boards, beginning with the Race to the Top blueprint

Now is not the time for any presidential wannabes to push their purely political agendas.

Education reform should be about consensus building - not political posturing. Superman is not real, and the unions are not kryptonite.

It's time to stop vilifying public education and public school teachers, and to stop exalting charter schools and private schools as silver bullet solutions. Studies clearly show that, for our most vulnerable students, they're not.

All schools - traditional public, private and charter - simply must do better.

KIPP executive director Tom Majdanics hits the nail on the head when he says, "There are no 100 percent solutions; there are 100 1 percent solutions."

With all due respect to mythical superheroes, the real work happens here on the ground.

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