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.

About Joanne


  1. SuperSub says:

    “It lashes out at the teachers who made Florida schools a ‘model for the nation,'”

    Umm…what nation? Ecuador?

    As long as they crate a semi-sane assessment scale for teacher pay, then I’m good with it. I know there are lots who would disagree, but I’m all for routine observations and teacher evaluations being the primary factor in determining pay.
    This method seems to me to be fairer and more generally applicable than basing pay on any analysis of test scores.

  2. The problem that arises is something out of the individual teacher’s hand: what to do with the politics of the school system? A principal can just about guarantee success or failure (at least at the high school level) by assigning one teacher all of the kids who are waaaay behind in reading level, for example. That teacher may do wonders in raising reading levels, but still not have many achieve the proficiency score. Too bad on merit pay for that; seems an easy way to force older teachers who cost more out of the school. And what do you do about the many teachers in secondary schools who do not have state tests in their subject.
    Just find a way to make things equitable, and I am willing to be judged in some part on my students’ scores.

  3. So far there are four comments on Hess’s post. Each of them makes more sense than what Hess wrote.

  4. Rick Hess writes pure propaganda for the corporate/privatization crowd and words for an outfit, The American Enterprise Institute, whose entire purpose is to sprout the right wing/corporate line.

  5. My understanding is that the proposed merit pay plan in Florida would be based on a value added model rather than on the number of students who score proficient. A teacher who is given students who are “waaay below grade level” could still qualify for merit pay if she (or he) is able to substantially increase their reading ability even if they don’t necessarily reach proficiency by the end of the year.

  6. Sherman Dorn has problems with SB 6: http://www.shermandorn.com/mt/archives/003204.html

  7. SuperSub says:

    The issue with the value-added model is that many of the low performers got that way because they progress more slowly. If a class is stacked with these low-motivated students, few if any teachers will be able to make significant progress with them, lowering any value-added score.

    Ultimately, I still suggest a “soft” evaluation that is used in addition to any numerical measures as long as administrators are held responsible for who they employ. I have yet to see any measure in the bill to address the issue of incompetent administrators.

  8. that recognizes performance and expects professionals to merit their keep.

    That’s the part teachers don’t like.

  9. Don Bemont says:

    “However, nuance isn’t an option: The choice is between SB 6 and the status quo.”

    Hmmm… Sounds a lot like the argument for Obama-care, eh?

  10. that recognizes performance and expects professionals to merit their keep.

    That’s the part teachers don’t like.

    Actually, bandit, good teachers don’t mind that idea. SB 6, however, puts all power in the hands of principals, whether good or bad, and makes it easy for a mediocre principal to destroy a great teacher. It’s not reform: it’s destruction without any workable plan for rebuilding. If I lived in Florida and had kids, I’d be planning to move.

  11. good teachers don’t mind that idea

    That’s quite gracious of them

  12. Ran Cook says:

    SB 6 was the worst thing to happen to education in Florida that I have ever seen. I am a teacher, one who came into this profession as a second career, and have been doing it for nineteen years. I work and work very hard at my profession, spending thousands of my own dollars so I can better teach my students, both high and low. SB 6 was/is a slap at all teachers, and at public education itself. Robert Marazano has told us that 80% of what influences a student’s learning is beyond a teacher’s control. One only has to visit a class room to see that. I love my job, with the pressure, the grading, the politics, with the very long hours; I still love it. My students were appalled that their test scores could be a factor in how I am judged as a professional, because in their honesty they admit they don’t care about learning, about school, about their grades, but then turn around and tell me that somehow I make them learn. But, there are many that don’t, and it is not because of what happens in the class room; it is about their own apathy about learning, about coming from a single-parent home with no supervision, about low socio-economic issues that impact their lives, about learning disabilities, etc.
    The state legislature wants to micro-manage what is happening in our schools, while at the same time not funding adequately what is happening. I have not had a raise in three years, and already know there won’t be money for one next year, but I will still spend my own money to help to create an environment for learning for my students.
    As for “bad” teachers? There are already in place steps that can be followed by administrators that will move them out of teaching, and in my school my principal has done it, and the union supported his decision because it was right.
    SB 6 is all about a particular group in the Republican Party wanting to push their own agenda for schools, and it seems like they want to destroy public education. Oh, one other thing. I am a conservative Republican, an evangelical Christian; not a wild-eyed liberal Democratic party member. And, I have no thought of leaving my party, but right now, I am feeling like my party has left me, and so do many of my peers. We love what we do; we just need those not involved in education to step back and let us do our job. In case, no one has kept up with the studies recently, Florida is showing enormous gains in student scores, and that without this extreme bill.

  13. Bandit, while I was inexact in my phrasing (I should have said “quite like the idea”), your teach-hating snark demonstrates your unworthiness to shine the shoes of the worst teacher on the planet. I pity your children.

  14. Wow. I agree with Ran Cook 100 percent. Unlike Ran, I left teaching after 6 years. The last year I taught in Georgia, they had threatened performance pay and end-of-course testing; two things SB 6 contained. Ran is correct. There are a number of problems with education, but the bill was not going to correct them. Competent administrators, parents and teachers can work together to achieve results. Teaching is not an easy place to be right now and Conservative Republicans need to quit pointing fingers, roll up their sleeves and quit trying to find band-aids to fix a huge culture with a lot of hurts. The dumping ground for that culture, duh!, is the public school system and as much as parents whine that’s not what they want for their precious children–it’s a reflection of the culture at large. You can’t FORCE values on people!

  15. Ann Costello says:

    I have long felt teachers have become the scapegoat for lagging parental involvement and political opportunists. Holding teachers totally responsible for student achievement is like holding doctors solely responsible for the health of their patients. When doctors proscribe rest, good nutrition, exercise and taking prescribed medication as directed, but patients fail to follow those directions, patients don’t get well. Doctors can’t be blamed. When teachers prescribe that a child get to bed at a decent hour, do their homework, study (with parental involvement perhaps?), get proper nutrition, discipline and encouragement and this regimen is ignored, guess what? Kids don’t perform. Teachers are only one factor in the educational life of a child. Parents are the ones who are failing or absent in their responsibilities, and kids are suffering. Ah, but it plays so well to the voter to blame the school and avoid responsibility does it not? Teachers have a very difficult job and are now stretched to be social workers as well as educators. The schools are feeding, dressing, buying supplies, transporting and protecting children from abuse. Enough! Let’s get behind our teachers and help them instead of punishing them for things that society has been unable to correct thus far.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JoanneLeeJacobs. JoanneLeeJacobs said: New blog post: Why Florida's SB 6 isn't 'anti-teacher' http://www.joannejacobs.com/2010/04/why-floridas-sb-6-isnt-anti-teacher/ […]