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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Teacher hating bill picks up steam

This was a done deal the second Scott was elected despite Wise's claims of inclusveness. -cpg

From the St. Petersbug Times Gradebook

by Jeff Solocheck

The Senate's version of legislation to change the way Florida schoolteachers are paid, evaluated, contracted and certified won approval from another committee Tuesday morning.

After nearly two hours of discussion and testimony, much of it similar to what we heard a week ago at the Pre-K-12 Committee, the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education Pre-K-12 Appropriations voted out SB 736 on an 8-1 vote, with only Republican Paula Dockery opposed.

Members praised sponsor Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, for crafting a better bill than last year's SB 6 and for being more inclusive in writing it. But some also cautioned that the bill needs more work before they're willing to back it on the floor.

"The current way it is today is unacceptable for Florida public education," said Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who also is head of the state's superintendents organization. He argued that the bill takes away teachers' confidence that they will have jobs regardless of their performance, and said it relied on evaluations that don't even exist.

"A tremendous amount of change is coming to Florida K-12. It's long overdue," Montford said. "I believe we as a Legislature can do better."

Even Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, suggested that improvements are necessary. But she suggested that the kinks could be worked out over time, saying that this legislation is "the next major logical step in education reform," building upon the state's A-Plus system.

Questions remain over how to pay for raises, for instance, and how the bill jibes with other endeavors such as Race to the Top. And the House version has yet to emerge.

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