House Takes Up Teacher Merit Pay Bill

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.

  • Bob

    Standardized tests are not the way to go. Obama already made it harder to become a teacher. Now you must have a bachelors in the subject you plan to teacher. It used to be any one with a bachelor degree can teach any subject. So why would any one want to become a teacher if it’s harder and now it pays less? If the government is going to test the teachers regularly why not the parents also? Its mostly the parents fault that the kids misbehave or miss class and don’t do their homework. How does a teacher force a student to do well if they won’t get the encouragement from home? The whole school system should be changed but for the students not the teachers. I substitute in a low income high school while still in school and I see many children from low income families and broken homes come to school with no supplys and no will to learn. Most of the teachers buys these kids supplys from their own pocket. Something needs to change but not like this.

  • Barry

    A Teacher’s pay has nothing to do with education. 2 plus 2 is 4 no mattter where you go (except Washington D.C.). Problem children should be removed from the classroom, as I was, so the other students can do their work. A set of education standards should be made for each grade and NO Child should be able to pass to the next grade until they meet the Standards. Don’t bring the other children down…bring the failing student up with extra help. If Charter schools are so good….Why aren’t all schools run that way???


    Our representatives have forgotten what it is to be a child or a teenager; how can one force either to learn if they do not want to? Imposing a merit pay system on teachers and specifically removing the tenure option is similar to removing the freedom of speech that the constitution guarantees. It will force whoever is in the teaching profession to consider other forms of employment; it will not attract career minded individuals since there will be no career track record or incentive. It is time that our representatives start acting responsively. They should honor the will of the people they represent and not the “big money” of interested individual, of politicians that want to make a name for themselves or large corporations that seek to harm us rather than to help us. If any of them were serious, they would prevent our jobs from going overseas. Our representatives have forgotten that they owe their current position to teachers. If they are serious about changes, make the teaching position the highest paid profession not the lowest! Make teachers first class citizens! Make positive changes in education; stop blasting the students with tests that force teacher to teach to the test and remove their academic freedom. Remove the “Florida Child abuse test” (FCAT) that grades the school based on the whim of teenagers. Those test results only confirm the saying that one should not judge a book by its cover. Impose a valid graduation test at the high school level as many other countries in world do. Why not use the SAT or the ACT tests to grade the schools. We would not have to spend all the money that is being devoted to blast our students with tests and which line up the pockets of so called interested individuals. Class size amendment is the best thing that happened in education. Yet it is about to be repealed.

  • Agustin Bel

    I think the reporter should have asked this politician what ;”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’ means…how is this connected, it is not explained. Will the students come without their parents? how are they going to be paid for their hard work?
    I love politicians who boast about their proposed laws and how they will change the future, do they have the power to see it, are they clairvoyants?

  • Mikhail Solow

    All schools should be privatize not subsidize. Private schools have the right to refuse to accept bad behaving children, and that will force the parents to take responsibility for their offspring.

  • GetRidOfTenure

    Tenure is for lazy people that just get paid to show up for work. Why are teachers complaining when they almost get 5 months of the year off?. Ask in the private sector to see that the average worker just has between 3 and 5 weeks off only. If I could leave my job for 5 months and then be able to still have my job, I will take the same salary that teachers have and I don’t want any tenure.
    Teachers are what make students and when you have 50% or more of teachers that are just junk, something needs to be done.
    South Florida as is is #46 in education which is why California, Arizona and Texas are right behind thwm. Two things in common? warm weather and hispanics (BTW I am hispanic). We did not come to Florida for education we came here for the warm weather otherwise I wiould be living in Vermot, New Hampshire or Massachussets (rather Not) if I want my child to get the best education.

    • anonymous

      Tenure is to prevent the most skilled and highly paid teachers from being laid off to hire new, less experienced and cheaper teachers. Our education system is poor because of the lack of parental interest and the low pay. A third year teacher in a small district on Long Island (NY) makes more than a 19 year teacher in Broward County. There are certainly bad teachers, but oversight by supervisors in the beginning stages prior to getting tenure would weed them out in time. Testing is no way to evaluate the skills of a teacher that spends 4-5 hours with a student, when the parent is more interested in their kids playing sports, being a buddy to their kids and could care less about their homework.

  • Miami Hot Chef

    Alot of the comments left by some of you I can agree with, but some ofthe points I cannot. First, President Obama did not make it hard for teachers to teach, he jst made it clear that you should know what you are teaching. Honestly I feel my kids would learn more in math class from a teacher with a four year degree in math rather than a teacher with a four year degree in sociology.

    Second, yes all parents need to take responsibility in how their children behave in school and do homework. Their is no excuse for any parent to not make sure thier kid is doing what they should be doing.

    Third, privitizing schools is not the answer to solve then issue of kids that dont act properly in school. Teachers also need to learn to take back the classroom and and the administration MUST back the teachers that are trying to do this. One comment stated that privates schools can refuse bad students, hey buddy they can pick and choose teachers also. Even “bad” kids have the right to an education. Those who have chosen to become teachers did chose the profession to teach any and everyone.If you feel you should ppick and choose who you teach then you should not be in the public school system. Education is the right of every american and we the people need to stand by our teachers and show them support.

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