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Merit Pay Bill Taking Shape In Florida Senate

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(Credit: AP)

(Credit: AP)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – The makings of a showdown in Tallahassee appear to be taking shape as the Florida Senate education committee is set to debate teacher pay.

The debates will feature an appearance by controversial former D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

The former chancellor fired long-serving teachers who she thought weren’t performing well and pushed a plan that gave high performing teachers more money if they agreed to give up tenure, according to the News Service of Florida.

Rhee is currently serving as an informal adviser to Governor Rick Scott. The new governor has stated in the past that he is a supporter of teacher performance pay.

State Senator Steve Wise has filed legislation that would partially base teacher salary increase on test scores, and allow school boards to put new hires on one-year contracts, according to the News Service of Florida.

A bill creating a merit pay system passed the Republican-led legislature last year, but it led to teachers, students and parent to rally against it. Then-Governor Charlie Crist eventually vetoed the bill.

The new bill would grandfather in current teacher pay plans, but set up merit-based ones for teachers hired after July 1, 2014. Half of the scores given to teachers would be based on the test scores students received on standardized tests.

According to the News Service of Florida, the bill asks the state commissioner of education to develop a formula to be approved by the state board of education to measure student growth on standardized exams.

Last year, teachers and other educators argued that basing their pay strictly on test scores would run the risk of teachers only teaching the test and not how to learn. That would in turn create problems for the students as they entered colleges and universities across the country.

Wise hopes to bring the bill to a vote before the Florida Senate by the second or third week of March. But, he is waiting for school superintendents, the school boards, and the teachers’ union before he moves forward.

Even if the teachers’ union objects to the bill and protests erupt, there’s little opponents can do to stop a bill similar to last year’s Senate Bill 6 from passing and being signed by Governor Scott.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.)

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