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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Florida Legislature: We have just begun to punish teachers

From The St. Petersburg Times Gradebook

by Jeff Solochek

No long-term contracts for Florida teachers who don't already have one, lawmakers say
With Senate Bill 736, Florida lawmakers made it so that any teachers newly hired beginning July 1 would only be able to get an annual contract. No long-term deals would be available for them.

What wasn't clear was that current teachers on annual contracts won't be able to get professional services contracts, either.

HB 7087, up for a vote in the Florida House on Thursday, would repeal laws guaranteeing PSC's — which some equate to tenure — to teachers who have completed up to three years on a yearly work agreement. Teacher unions have cried foul.

"It's underhanded and it's unnecessary," United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb told the Gradebook. "It's difficult to not be totally disgusted," said Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president Kim Black. "Where is the legislation and funding to support new teachers? instead, they want to keep them on 10 month contracts. It's shameful."

Not so fast, House leaders say. SB 736 never promised teachers on annual contracts a PSC, they said. Only teachers currently with one can keep one, they added.

"Even if this bill does not pass it is not going to change their concern," said sponsor Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

Rep. Erik Fresen, the Miami Republican who steered SB 736 through the House, agreed. Those teachers in the pipeline for a longer contract "won't be able to get it, but not because of this repealer. Because of 736."

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