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House Takes Up Teacher Merit Pay Bill

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Legislative Session Coverage

TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – A bill that would set up a merit pay plan for teachers and end tenure is about to be taken up in the Florida House.

The chamber has scheduled nine hours of floor action Tuesday. Up to 12 more hours including a roll call are set for Wednesday.

Last week the state’s Senate passed their version of the bill (SB 736) by a vote of 26 to 12 vote which fell mostly along party lines, with only one Republican, Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, voting against it, and one Democrat, Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, voting for it.last week. It’s less rigid than one former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed after widespread protests by teachers, parents, students and many local school officials.

Key features are a merit pay plan based heavily on student test scores effective in 2014 and a ban on tenure for teachers hired after July 1, 2011.

“I think we’re sending a very strong message that the State of Florida wants young people from across the country, to come to Florida, because we are going to pay you for your hard work,” said Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami).

Opponents have said that the bill is unacceptable because it leaves students out of the mix.

“The focus should be on improving education in the classroom, focusing on the curriculum, focusing on getting a better quality of life for all kids out there. Instead (we are) focusing on the teacher only. This bill says there are bad teachers out there, we’re going to get rid of them as quickly as possible,” said Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood).

If it passes in the House, the merit pay bill could be one of the earliest measures to go this year to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott, who has indicated his willingness to sign it.

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