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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Teachers and Famlies, stay away from Florida

From the Times Union message boards

For anyone who is thinking about moving to Florida to teach, please consider the following:

1. You will be on a probationary contract for your entire first year, which means you can be fired for NO reason at all, at any time during the first year. This applies to everyone. I have no idea how districts are going to offer insurance, since right now our probation is only 3 months
and benefits do NOT start until the first of the month following that 3 month period. Most companies don't offer benefits until you complete your probabion period, so it's possible our lawmakers just sentenced new teachers to NO benefits for their entire first year of teaching.

2. After your first year on "probabion", you can be offered an annual contract. ALL new teachers in FL are now going to be on annual contract *forever*. Your contract will automatically end in June unless the district takes action to renew it. Also, under FL law, you are NOT eligible for unemployment until the first day of the next school year,
which would be August. No UE for summer, even if you are laid off! (and our max benefit is only $275 and we cut the number of weeks down from 26 to 20)

3. There is a bill pending right now (Senate Bill 2100) that ends the pension plan for all new hires. SO NO PENSION IN FLORIDA for teachers anymore. Even if we manage to keep the pension for new hires (not very likely), they are still changing everything.. from how your benefit is calculated, to your cost of living increase. Lawmakes actually want to END all cost of living increases for anyone on the pension plan. If you know anything about inflation, you realize that the purchasing power of a $20,000 pension quickly diminishes without any cost of living increase over the years. In short, it becomes worthless.

4. Our teacher pay is now lower than Mississippi.

5. Health insurance is handled on a per-district basis, so some districts have much better plans. Some districts require teachers to pay $800 a month for family coverage (does NOT include dental, vision, disabilty.. those are extra)

6. There is an all out war against teachers here. You will be demonized by the public and people actually cheer when we lay off teachers. Unions are powerless here and will probably be de-certified in the coming years.

7. There is no longer any tenure or due process for new teachers (even those coming from out of state with years of experience).

8. Under Florida's new "merit pay" plan (aka Student Success Act), 50% of your annual review will be based on your students' test scores on ONE test per year. (we still have to create hundreds of these tests and lawmakers gave districts ZERO dollars for this) If you don't earn "effective" or "highly effective" you get zero raise. (the merit pay is actually your annual raise) If you get a poor review, districts will be under pressure to fire you (very easy - just don't renew your annual contract)

Students in our public schools start drilling for the FCAT test in 1st grade now. It is all about rushing through things, and teaching to the test. Kids will now be forced to take a multiple choice test in every single subject, from 1st grade ART to PE to music. We want to punish the
bad teachers and run them out, so we have to test, test, test. How absurd is it that an elementary art teacher sees the kids once every 5 to 7 days and will now have to spend that time drilling "facts" so they can regurgitate them on a 10 or 20 question test so she can keep her JOB?

So please think twice before you make an expensive move to Florida. It is NOT worth it any more and teacher morale is in the gutter. I have worked both in the corporate world and the classroom and I have to say - becoming a teacher was the biggest mistake I ever made. It is sad that our
lawmakers and Governor have ruined everything for teachers. I really did enjoy the actual teaching part and I was good at it as well.

Our latest budget calls for cutting per pupil spending by another $463 (6.8%). The job at this point is impossible and thankless.

Good luck to new teachers in FL. You are going to need it


  1. FYI, this is happening in other states, not just Florida. I am a teacher in CT, where we are going through similar changes.

  2. I came across your site because I am wanting to move from Florida to Texas to teach. I'm still in the process of deciding what I'm going to do.

  3. Florida is not the place to live if you need to work in ANY field. As a nurse we are treated like slaves ,Too many patients per nurse ratio, required to do tasks unrelated to nursing and have the job description of three people. We also have no rights. As a right to work state we can get fired for anything. I knew a nurse who got fired for not smiling enough on the job- no joke. Fl is a beautiful state but only live here if you do not need to work.

  4. I was rated Effective and improving for 5 years straight while teaching both 6th and 7th grade Science in a secondary Title I discipline school.

  5. I work in a title 1 disciplinary Center for 5 years and received an effective evaluation each year, yet I was not renewed. I requested ESE support multiple times and was denied due to staff reductions. I was placed on a success plan because a student illegally recorded a cell phone video even though it was illegal and posted on the wall as such. I was a union member and my union rep was ineffective in helping me appeal my grievances.. the school can basically operate outside of our constitutional rights and I was given no due process nor shown any evidence of such video.. my students progress data was not even acknowledged are considered nor were my students post evaluations of me as a teacher.. I suppose a dictator type environment and negative morale atmosphere is supposed to help teachers professionally develop and help students improve in their learning, thousands of dollars and countless hours wasted to gain my professional educators certificate.. take away the paddles and giving students cell phones must be an ideal recipe for success in their eyes,, student entitlement has led to teachers working in fear

  6. Turn this into a post and I will put it on the blog. People should hear your story.

  7. I also received an effective evaluation score this year but was not renominated for my position in Volusia county. It was my first year in Volusia county, but I have 8 years of experience in Hillsborough county. In Hillsborough county I worked as a gifted teacher, a Math and Science Coach, and held many leadership positions for the district such as a writer and deliver of trainings. Since I had tenure in Hillsborough county and started late in the school year I was completely shocked by the final outcome of my position.
    What was even more shocking was the fact that I apparently have been, "Flagged," in the Volusia county system in such a way that I am looked at as an undesirable hire despite my evaluation, success in my position as an Elementary Math Intervention teacher, and my experience.
    I first became aware of this fact after applying for 20+ positions without a single response back, and then it became clear after my one and only interview for a district position. I believe I got the interview due to the fact that they requested a resume emailed to them instead of relying solely on the information in the Volusia county system.
    My interview was going wonderfully until I was asked why I wasn't returning to my last school. I stated my principal did not renominate me, and it was obvious this was a big problem. They asked me if I knew why, and I explained that she did not give me a reason; which they said was within her rights. What happened next explains how flawed the system is here in Florida.
    It was explained to me that I now have a, "Flag," on my name in the system. If they wanted to hire me they would have to do two things. 1. Contact my principal to find out why she didn't renominate me And 2. Get approval from someone higher up then them in the district to hire me.
    My issue is very simple. If I have been rated effective by my principal why does it even matter if she chose not to renominate me for the next school year? Also, why do other people get to find our why she didn't renominate me and I don't?
    Jessica Mack

    1. Were you ever able to get another position in volusia?

  8. I'm a first grade teacher who was rated as a highly effective teacher this year and an effective teacher the previous 2 years. Out of 7 1st grade classes my students SGP's were the highest in both reading (85-SGP) and math (71- SGP) (super proud)!! I was just informed by my administration that my contact will not be renewed next year!! How is this right?? Oh, and yes the 2 other annual contracts on the 1st grade team, their contracts are being renewed. Can I fight this?

  9. I need to know some more details but yes I think you can. First are you a member of the union? Also what district do you work in?