Florida Gov. Rick Scott waits to be introduced during a visit to the Florida International Academy charter school on January 6, 2011 in Opa Locka, Florida. Scott visited the school with Michelle Rhee, who was the former head of public schools in Washington, D.C., and now will serve the governor as the Informal Education Advisor to the Governor.

In the state of Florida there have been some wild and crazy things happening during their legislative session.

The “Student Success” bill was passed by the state legislature and, gleefully, signed by Governor Scott with Michelle Rhee probably by his side.

Below is a description by a Parents Across America-Florida member about what has happened in the last three weeks.

We’ve been playing whack-a-mole in Seattle and in Olympia with much of this coming up during the legislative session as well as through pressure applied by Gates, the PTA (of all organizations), the Alliance for Education and the League of Education Voters locally on our school board members, the mayor and I am sure our interim superintendent, to approve much of what was passed in Florida.

Let’s make sure that this does not happen in our state and even though Governor Gregoire did catch some of the Arne Duncan/Race to the Top flu, a Republican governor would be far worse. Race to the Top funding promises a relatively small amount of money at a very high price.

The comments in italics are mine.


Recent legislation (Senate Bill 736) passed by the Florida Legislature
strips control from local School Boards in a number of areas (so much for the democratic process) yet it simultaneously puts the burden of squeezing taxpayers for the money needed for the moneyless merit pay program they just
enacted (thanks to the billionaire boys club that doesn’t want to spend money on their own whacky ideas) along with money required to develop 1,000 new tests for every subject taught.

Additionally, the financial burden of implementing Race to the Top
initiatives are so oppressive that many Districts face massive layoffs
just to comply with the RttT mandates.  The total amount required
to launch these initiatives is estimated to be at least 12 times more than
what was received–conservatively!  Most Florida Districts do not have
the technology structure, the personnel, the resources in place to accommodate
RttT demands.  Keep in mind, too, that RttT monies vanish in 24-36 months
depending upon which DOE document you choose to believe.

Senate Bill 736 ENACTED:

1)  Teachers will have 50% of their evaluations based on student’s nationalized test scores.
This is effective immediately and impacts every teacher.  Anyone who does not teach Reading or Math will receive a score based upon a calculation of all the teachers.  So, to be clear,  teacher’s salaries, their ability to be re-hired for one more year, their colleagues’ jobs and the opening or closing of your school itself all fall on the shoulders of that child taking that one test, that one day. How’s that

2)  This Merit Pay Bill was a moneyless bill.
Legislature admitted they have no money to fund the merit pay.
(Yet they still claim they are ‘rewarding effective teachers!’)

3)  New standardized tests will be created for every course taught- bill
states 1,000 new tests to be created.
Important to note:  The State does not fund the creation of these new tests.  Each new test is estimated to be between $1M – $1.5M. Taxpayers will
be burdened with this mandate.

4)  All new teachers, hired after July, will be placed on a one-year contract which must be renewed annually.
Teachers must earn the right to be re-hired every year.  This goes for seasoned, veteran teachers who move from one FL District to another FL District as well.  They will fall under this rule.

5)  In 2014, all Florida teachers will have two choices.  Lethal injection or firing squad (couldn’t resist!).
All FL teachers must choose either to:
A) stay with their current contracts and accept the high probability of never receiving another raise again; or,
B) opt to go on the one year contract which must be renewed every year contract. How’s that for job security?

6)  Effective July, teachers will no longer be paid at a higher rate for a Masters Degree
even if it is earned in the subject they teach. (Education, schemeducation)

7)  Effective July, teacher seniority is eliminated.
This will be important when layoffs occur. No more Last In, First Out with layoffs.  Soon, we’ll have armies of underpaid newbies driven by data in order to retain their underpaid job. (Teach for America, five weeks training and cheap labor cost. What else could a parent ask for?!)

I hasten to add a few more important points.  Most of FL’s 67 School Districts have already discussed a longer workday for teachers.  Pay will remain the same.  Florida teachers already receive $5,700 less per year than the national average; and $6,300 less than its neighboring state, Georgia.  Florida has had a difficult time recruiting teachers for the past five (5) years already.

Can you hear the stampede of teachers flocking to Florida now?  All of this will really solve the recruiting problem, won’t it?  But, I digress.


8)  Unions are not permitted, now by Florida law, to collect teacher’s dues from their paychecks. (Thus making the teachers’ union null and void.)

9)  Governor Scott proposed a bill which will order 105,000 state employees
(including teachers) to endure mandated urine/blood drug tests. Guess he
found money for that. Note: Florida Governor owns Solantic Clinics.

10) Governor and the Repubublican legislature advanced another bill which will attempt to split the Florida Supreme Court into two courts and give the Governor the sole power of appointing Florida justices.

11)  Governor last week proposed putting all Florida Judges on merit pay–the more cases they take and clear, the more money they will make.  (Imagine the dynamic this will set up? )

12)  Florida Governor invoked his emergency powers to order an immediate rollback of payment for the developmentally disabled. (Autistic, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, all developmentally disabled — impacting an estimated 40K individuals minimally.) This is sickening–he invoked an emergency order Friday to stop payments and reduce their already insufficient funds another 15%.

After reading this, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to teach in Florida, or have a child in school there.


Post Script:
This is what happens when politicians determine education policy.