Why Florida's SB 6 isn't 'anti-teacher'

Florida teachers passionately oppose SB 6, which would end tenure and base teacher pay, in part, on student performance. But the “game-chaning” SB 6  is not anti-teacher, Rick Hess writes.

It promises to shift teaching in Florida from an industrial-era profession in which teachers are treated as largely indistinguishable assembly line workers swaddled in the guarantee of lifelong employment into a 21st century profession that recognizes performance and expects professionals to merit their keep.

Public employees are protected against capricious treatment without the stifling effects of tenure, Hess writes. And “advances in assessment and data systems now make it increasingly possible to gauge teachers on the quality of their work,” rather than than on seniority and graduate credits.

Hess worries that teacher performance metrics are imperfect gauges of teacher quality and concedes that “cementing narrow, test-based measures of teacher effectiveness into state law” could be problematic.  However, nuance isn’t an option: The choice is between SB 6 and the status quo.

That choice is now in the hands of Gov. Charlie Crist.

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