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Thursday, February 24, 2011

John Thrasher hates teachers or hates teachers the most

I just wonder what some teacher did to him to make him hate all teachers so much. -cpg

From the Florida Times Union

By Brandon Larrabee

TALLAHASSEE - The debate over the successors to last year's polarizing teacher-pay bill once again turned heated Wednesday, as opponents fumed about a decision by Sen. John Thrasher to cut off debate in the measure's final Senate committee.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said his chamber would vote on its version of the bill during the first week of the upcoming legislative session, which begins March 8.

The bitter exchanges over the Senate Budget Committee's vote, the last hurdle standing between the measure and the Senate floor, marked a departure from what has been a notably less raucous procedure for the bill than last year's fight.

On Wednesday, the budget committee approved the bill 15-5 on an almost party-line vote, with one Democrat supporting the measure. But the vote came after the panel limited debate - under a motion offered by Thrasher, R-St. Augustine - to testimony from a handful of people largely supportive of the bill.

That infuriated opponents, including teachers who had come from hundreds of miles away.

"I drove all night, and I spent five hours getting my sub planned yesterday, and I didn't get paid - this is my personal day, time off - and I got screwed," said Chris Ott, a kindergarten teacher in Alachua County.

Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, opposed Thrasher's motion and was still visibly irritated after the meeting about the limited debate.

"It wouldn't have changed the vote," Rich said, "but at least it would have been a better exercise of democracy."

Supporters of the measure noted that lawmakers heard from both sides for hours on Senate Bill 6 last year, and that the sponsor, Senate Education Chairman Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, has also held numerous hearings this year.

"You can go and go and go, but you have a lot of people saying the same thing over and over, and I think we got the gist of it," Thrasher said.

This year's measure would follow some of the same general contours as SB 6. It would tie teachers' pay raises more closely to student achievement. New teachers would no longer become eligible for long-term contracts after gaining experience and would instead work on a series of one-year agreements.

The House PreK-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee also approved its own version of the measure after hearing hours of debate.

Teachers appeared split, with Rhonda Lochiatto of Volusia County saying she backed the measure as a way to reward the best educators.

But Ott said the bill's approach appeared to be "the beatings will continue until morale improves.", (678) 977-3709


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