Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Legislative Update

 Source: Florida Education Association




February 7, 2011



»    Scott’s budget proposal highlights busy committee week

»    Check out the latest resources from FEA

»    A report on the way from FEA’s crème de la crème

»    Legislative briefings coming this month


»    Floridians want stonewalling to end on redistricting amendments


»    Florida among the lowest taxed states


»    What’s happening in our locals


»    Labornotes.org looks at the attacks on education unions


»    A glimpse at the news


»   Committee week keeps the Capitol hopping


Gov. Rick Scott will unveil his highly anticipated budget request this afternoon at a Tea Party event in Eustis, but the focus will quickly shift back to Tallahassee as lawmakers have already asked for the Scott administration to come explain parts of the budget in legislative meetings.

But state lawmakers this week are also scheduled to deal with unemployment compensation, property insurance, Medicaid reform, the state pension, and immigration as well as education reform. There will be plenty of attention focused on former Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who is scheduled to testify on school reform before legislators. Rhee has garnered national attention for her clashes with teacher unions.

Meetings of note

  • Tuesday -- 9 a.m. to noon: The House Pre-K Appropriations Subcommittee discusses Scott’s budget, among other items.
  • Tuesday -- 1 to 3 p.m.: The House K-20 Innovation Subcommittee holds a charter school reform workshop.
  • Wednesday -- 9 a.m. to noon: The governor’s director of the Office of Policy and Budget, Jerry McDaniel, discusses Scott’s budget proposal before the Senate Budget Committee.
  • Wednesday -- 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.: The Senate Education PreK-12 committee hears from Students First CEO Michelle Rhee and the Florida Department of Education on instructional quality and plans to work on SB 736 as well.
  • Wednesday -- 3 to 6 p.m.: Rhee goes over to the House K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee.
  • Thursday -- 8 to 10 a.m.: More talk on Scott’s budget in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education PreK-12 Appropriations. They will also discuss class size and several other topics.
  • Thursday – 8 to 10 a.m.: The House Education Committee discusses teacher quality, among other topics.
  • Thursday – 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.: The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Finance and Tax takes up the latest incarnation of TABOR.
  • Thursday – 10.15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations takes its crack at the Scott budget proposal.
  • Thursday – 1 to 6 p.m.: The Senate Education PreK-12 Committee continues its meeting from Wednesday with Rhee and the Florida Department of Education on instructional quality, work on SB 736 and a discussion of Scott’s budget plans.
  • On Friday, the Economic Estimating Conference talks about the national economy at 8 a.m. and the Education Estimating Conference discusses PreK-12 enrollment at 3 p.m.

Here’s more information on Scott’s budget proposal and on Rhee:

Scott set to roll out budget plan

Experts skeptical about Scott’s tax-cut plan

The political education of Michelle Rhee


»   Your source for resources


Remember, you can log in to http://feaweb.org/ to find the latest resources from FEA:


For leaders: http://feaweb.org/leader-resource-section


For staff: http://feaweb.org/staff-resource-section



»   Our most accomplished teachers on pay for performance


There’s a lot of talk today about making our schools better and our teachers more effective. Researchers have confirmed that teachers make a big difference in how much students learn -- even in the most challenging schools. But scholars, administrators and teachers (and their union leaders) still disagree, sometimes vehemently, over what constitutes effective teaching and what role student test scores and value-added statistical formulas should play in determining effectiveness and paying teachers for performance. However, the research evidence is clear: working conditions, far more than salary incentives, are key to recruiting and retaining effective teachers. Performance pay plans can make a difference for student achievement , when they are designed to improve the school climate and encourage teacher collaboration – not just increase compensation.

With the help and guidance of Barnett Berry and the Center for Teaching Quality, 17 of Florida’s finest teachers, sponsored by the FEA, examined the results of more than 30 of the most significant scientific investigations into teaching effectiveness and performance pay, interviewed experts in the field, and debated with each other to reach bold recommendations for creating the kind of results-oriented reforms that can drive and spread effective teaching. 

Their ideas have been compiled into a report that will be released to the public within the next couple of weeks. Their findings are grounded in everyday practice and take into account a wealth of scholarly evidence. This report will transcend  the usual debates and reform bromides of today by relying on the facts as well as what matters most for the students and families they serve.


We’ll keep you posted on this report in future editions of FEA Right Now.


»   Legislative trainings getting under way


The staff members of the newly rebadged Political, Legislative, Policy and Advocacy Department will be providing more than 20 legislative briefing around the state in between now and the start of session. During the briefing, the speakers will be detailing the coming budget issues, legislative priorities and proposals. These briefings are in addition to the delivery of similar information and briefings provided during the regional resource team meetings. For further information, please contact debi.mcdaniel@floridaea.org.  


»   Citizens ask court to enforce voting rights laws


Last week, the Florida NAACP, Florida League of Women Voters, Democracia Ahora and several individual voters in Monroe County filed suit to require Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning to stop stonewalling implementation of Amendments 5 and 6. The amendments must be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice before they can be implemented. Former Gov. Charlie Crist requested the necessary preclearance before he left office. Two days after appointing Browning as Secretary of State, Scott withdrew the request. Browning was head of the committee that opposed the passage of the Fair Districts amendments.


For more see:  http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/


»   Florida taxes already among the lowest in the nation


The current emphasis in Tallahassee on cutting state taxes obscures important facts about Florida's tax system and about choices available to balance the budget and meet the needs of Floridians. Understanding the current level of taxation and who pays to support public services is important to the debate about tax cuts.  Some people maintain that Florida state taxes, particularly the amount paid by corporations, slow economic growth and the creation of new jobs.


In fact, Florida is a low-tax state. In addition, the amount paid by corporations relative to total income in Florida is shrinking. Moderate- and low-income taxpayers are paying a greater share of the tax load. Despite a budget gap that exceeds $4 billion, Florida's leaders are not considering a balanced approach including closing tax loopholes to fix the budget shortfall.   


Closing loopholes to raise revenues for state needs is an alternative to the path of tax and spending cuts being taken by political leaders this year.  Reforming the tax structure would minimize cuts to services and make the tax system more fair.   



»   More from around the state


Some interesting items from our local associations around the state:


  • The new leaders of Taylor County Non-Instructional Association participated in the Leadership Organizing Institute last month. The night they got back home, the president began mapping the worksites, planning a crisis meeting, and enlisting the help of FEA staff members George Bowen and Norma Cress, as well as Suwannee staff member Betsy Rigsby. Together, they developed a plan to educate, agitate, and organize this unit. On January 27,  the unit held a general membership meeting.  More than 60 employees out of 200 total bargaining unit members attended and as a result, TCNA has moved from 42 percent membership, to 61 percent  in one month's time.
  • The Government Relations Committee of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association and the Pinellas Education Support Personnel Association held its legislative training last week in late January and more than 50 members attended and some were there for the first time. “Our grassroots efforts are growing daily,” said PCTA President Kim Black.
  • The Leon Classroom Teachers Association has scheduled two more house meetings scheduled this week and are planning on adding more in the weeks that follow because, in the words of President David Worrell: “House meetings work. “The ‘magic’ takes place when meetings are held away from the union office and away from schools in a warm and friendly environment.  They allow our teacher leaders to decompress and focus their creative energies on strategies that will work for them.  They leave with the sense of urgency that encourages them to take action back in their schools.  The hour-and-a-half conversations are non-stop from beginning to end.”



»   Labornotes.org explores education policy

There is some good information on the attacks on public education news on its website:


»   News you should know

The latest batch of links to the best news stories in the world of public education.

Florida teachers say lawmakers are unfairly targeting them


Vouchers for all may be Scott’s plan

Battle shaping up over pension proposal

Districts may get relief on class size fines

The VIVA Project: What teachers told Duncan

GOP Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure

Study finds few gains in schoolwide pay program

Study finds social-skills teaching boost academics

Obama seeks to make NCLB more flexible

Palm Beach school officials admit teacher pay error

Out-of-state favors come at Florida’s expense

Jeb Bush’s endless war on unions

Koch brothers now at the heart of GOP power

“What authority do they have to implement a dress code? I’ve made a career out of dressing down for these clowns.”
-- Long-haired, bearded veteran radio reporter Rick Flagg, on the ongoing battle between Gov. Rick Scott and the Capitol Press Corps in Tallahassee.







No comments: