The Florida legislature has decided to throw the teaching profession under the bus with Senate Bill 6.
Florida legislates “low-coursework” or “no-coursework” teachers for its students.
I”ve decided to start every letter to you with a simple reminder: your proposed education reform is all about denial of civil rights and racism. Why you, our first minority President, would want to promote such an agenda is beyond my comprehension. Here are a couple of simple facts that should cause you to rethink education reform championed by Bill Gates, Eli Broad (rhymes with toad), the Walton,” the Dells and other of America”s multi-billionaires.
- Research shows that the reading and math test scores of students taught by these “low-coursework teachers” actually declined from fall to spring of their first teaching year
- Students who receive three ineffective teachers in a row may achieve at levels that are as much as 50 percentile points lower than students who receive three highly effective teachers in a row. (The Flat World and Education, Linda Darling-Hammond, Teachers College Press, 2010,” p. 46-49)
Think about that for a minute. If a child gets three ineffective teachers in a row, she can lose as many as 50 percentile points on a standardized test. She can”t make that up. Yet, that”s what Florida wants for its students. Here are the guts of the 61 page bill from FEA – Florida Teachers Express Opposition to Senate Bill:
• Decrease the ability of local school boards and school districts to make a wide array of decisions having an impact on local schools and replacing them with a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Tallahassee.
• Require that all teachers be retained, certified and compensated based on student test scores on standardized tests — not years of experience or degrees held.
• Penalize school districts that even consider length of service or degrees held when determining compensation or reductions in force.
• Order that teachers be issued probationary contracts for up to five years; then an annual contract every year after that … eliminating due process.
• Mandate more standardized testing for students (end of course exams for all subjects) and for teachers (additional certification requirements).
• Exclude the salary schedule as a subject of collective bargaining. The state will decide what categories of differentiated pay will be provided for.
• The state will have a much greater hand in appraisals.
• Abolish an effective and popular program that rewards those who become National Board Certified Teachers, a rigorous national program that awards certification after a yearlong, independent review of a teacher’s work in the classroom and knowledge of their field.
Why isn”t the legislature making similar law for people in other professions? What happened to the philosophy of less government, Republican legislators? This is nothing short of the state micromanaging an entire profession to lower the amount of money spent on education. It has nothing to do with closing the achievement gap or raising graduation rates as legislators claim. The state wants to give poor and minority children cheap, sub-standard teachers period.
Even with its bold legislative initiatives, Florida did not qualify for today”s first round Race to the Top funding. For the moment, it seems the legislature seems to have sold out its teachers and students for nothing.
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