Thursday, March 17, 2011

Legislative update March 17, 2011

Source: Florida Education Association


SB 736: Impact on Our Schools

Let Them Know You’re Disappointed


The fate of Senate Bill 736 now rests with the Governor who has promised to sign the legislation into law. This week, Republican House legislators voted unanimously in support of the so-called Teacher Quality bill. We must commend the Democrats who stood in unity voting against this flawed legislation. How will SB 736 impact our schools?

SB 736 is yet another multi-billion dollar unfunded mandate that dramatically increases student testing and does nothing to support or reward current teachers at a time when our schools can least afford it.

  • This new legislation requires local school districts to spend millions of dollars to develop new FCAT style tests and evaluation systems, but the Legislature is not providing additional funding to cover the cost.
  • Florida schools are already facing devastating budgets cuts. More cuts will force districts to close schools and cut programs and services. Employees are expected to face salary rollbacks, furloughs, layoffs and cuts in their benefits.Tallahassee shouldn't impose another $2 billion dollar unfunded mandate at a time when our schools and our school employees can least afford it.
  • We should not punish our teachers when our schools are doing better than ever. Recently, Florida ranked 5th in the nation, according to the Education Week annual Quality Counts report.

SB 736 will dramatically increase student testing.

  • Teacher evaluations and performance pay will be determined by student growth measurements using FCAT style tests. An increase in testing means more days of test anxiety for students and fewer days of teaching and learning.
  • More tests mean millions more spent on development and implementation and less money will be available for activities and resources that actually improve teaching skills and increase student learning gains.

SB 736 does nothing to reward current teachers.

  • Unfortunately, this bill places all responsibility for improving student achievement squarely on the shoulders of teachers but only rewards teachers hired after July 1, 2014.
  • Veteran teachers are not eligible for the new 'performance pay'...unless they give up their continuing or professional services contract and agree to work on an annual contract for the remainder of their careers.
  • Worse still, the bill requires districts (already struggling with dwindling budgets) to fund the new 'performance pay' schedule at a higher rate than the 'grandfathered' pay schedule which is used to compensate current teachers. But because the bill provides NO NEW FUNDING our school districts will be put in the untenable position of shortchanging programs and services to our students OR taking money from the salary schedule that is used to compensate current contract teachers.

We need to let the Governor and our legislators know this bill is an insult to the teachers who are working hard in our public schools every day!

Contact your Representative today!

Click the link to see how the lawmakers voted on SB 736: House and Senate.

If your legislator is Democrat, thank him/her for courageously standing on the side of students and teachers.

If your legislator is Republican, share your disappointment in his/her decision to support education policy that will have a negative impact on good teachers and cause more harm than  good for our students.

FEA Release on SB 736 House Vote
SB 736 at a Glance



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