Florida dumps tenure, adds merit pay

After a marathon debate, Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted to end tenure for new teachers and base teacher evaluations and merit pay partially on improving student test scores.

However the Republican governor, Charlie Crist, a supporter until the final days of debate, may veto the bill. Crist, who’s running for U.S. Senate, says he’s listening to the people, as opposed to waffling.

The shift fueled Capitol buzz that Crist is weighing whether to run for Senate as an independent, rather than face Marco Rubio in a closed Republican primary. Crist trails in the polls and is increasingly estranged from the conservative GOP base.

Under the bill, teachers would work on one-year contracts for the first three years, then be offered multi-year contracts. They would not be paid based on advanced degrees or years of experience. Teachers who receive poor evaluations could lose certification. Five percent of classroom funding would be set aside for merit pay for exemplary teachers and the cost of new tests. School districts that fail to comply with the bill would lose that money.

Teachers hate the bill and predict the state will have trouble hiring teachers if there’s no job security.

Union opposition doomed Florida’s Race To The Top bid, writes Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

Since 1999, Florida has become a national leader in learning gains made by students and in closing the achievement gap between white and minority kids.

. . . But the unions don’t approve, so no money for you.

RTTT graders said: “Florida has dramatically improved student achievement over the past decade as measured by [national reading and writing tests]. Most impressive has been the success of minorities. Black student gains in mathematics are closing the achievement gap and lead the nation. Hispanic fourth grade reading scores are above the national average of all students.”

Update: Mike Petrilli is surprised that Democratic legislators united to vote against ending tenure and adding merit pay, but split on expanding a voucher program for low-income students.

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  1. An important clarification: Teacher evaluations and pay increases would be based MOSTLY on improving test scores. Given the very real questions about the ability of current assessments to serve this purpose, the lack of assessments in most areas where teachers teach, the instability of such measures–even value-added measures–from year to year, concerns with Florida’s legislation are not ill-founded.

  2. Alf Tupper says:

    Crist is desperate. The GOP should end the suspense and endorse Rubio, who is an actual Republican, unlike Crist, who is a RINO.

    As for the teachers, what gives them the “right” to job security? I have 35 years’ experience in my field and I have no tenure.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    Teachers should not be guaranteed job security……

    Like Alf I have 36 years in my field and no tenure…I have to meet the goals that get raised every year regardless of the circumstances. Then I have to trust that management will take care of me if I get close…they have and they do…

    We need this approach in education…

    People will take the jobs…there are countless applicants, qualified applicants looking for work…they will come…

  4. There’s nothing wrong with being evaluated, we just disagree with the way they choose to do it. The problem is not the money — it’s that the state can take away your CERTIFICATION if your students don’t do well enough on the tests 4 out of 5 years. You don’t just lose your job, you lose your ability to work in the profession. Any higher degrees no longer count toward salaries. Also, there will be no provisions for women on maternity leave or active military (legislators tried to add it, but it was denied). No 4 out of 5 year passing rate, no job.

    There will be tests for every subject at every grade level now in order to show teacher competence. They won’t say how resource teachers will be evaluated, but with merit pay they just assigned them a grade level and resource teachers had to hope for the best. Why would anyone subject themselves to that? I’m heading back to school to get a degree in something new. At least with a job in the “real world”, I will only be judged on MY job performance instead of the performance of a random bunch of people who have no incentive to do well on my behalf. Many teachers I know plan to join me.

  5. SuperSub says:

    Tenure may be a bit outdated… it goes back to the days when teachers taught mostly their own curriculum and that curriculum might be at odds with the beliefs of the administration and/or school board.
    On the other hand, we still have districts that would refuse to teach evolution if they could.

  6. I don’t give much thought to tenure ordinarily (one can still be fired and laid off — it isn’t as guaranteed in most places as in NYC, etc.). However, I very frequently teach the children of school board members. Again, almost always a delightful experience, but there have been two or three sticky occasions when I was glad they needed good cause to “do something” about me. I don’t entirely blame the parents (OK, they were wrong, wrong, wrong… ha!) because it is human nature to get all mama bear when looking after your cub, and your cub always comes before the good of all the others, who are all my responsiblity. So these conflicts are normal, and tenure is a good way to check the balance of power there.

  7. Congolia Breckinridge says:

    As a school librarian and certified teacher (I have 11 years experience in the classroom and 25 as a library media specialist), I wonder how we will be evaluated. We teach information literacy, among other things, and I’m fairly certain the evaluators won’t take (or have) the time to isolate those skills in any broad testing subjects (science, reading, social studies, math, language).


  1. […] pressure from teachers, Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed SB 6, which would have ended tenure and linked teacher pay to student performance. Once a supporter of the bill, Crist said the veto was “the right thing to […]