TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) -Gov. Rick Scott signed the teacher merit pay bill on Thursday in Jacksonville, his first signed legislation since becoming Governor.

Scott attended a charter school in Jacksonville on Thursday to sign the new law that also will chip away at teachers’ due process and collective bargaining rights. The bill was signed at the KIPP – Knowledge Is Power Program – School, part of a nationwide chain of public college prep charter schools targeting low-income students.

Students at the schools go to school more, including on some Saturdays and through the summer, in addition to having longer days.

“We must recruit and retain the best people to make sure every classroom in Florida has a highly effective teacher,” Scott said.

Senate Bill 736 is also known as the Student Success Act. The portion of the bill dealing with eliminating multi-year contracts for new teachers goes into effect July 1. Schools are given three years to set up new evaluation systems for teachers tied to test scores. That portion goes into effect July 2014.

“I am proud that the first bill I sign is this important legislation that will give Florida the best educated workforce to compete in the 21st century economy,” Governor Scott said. “We must recruit and retain the best people to make sure every classroom in Florida has a highly effective teacher.”

The legislation changes how teacher performance is evaluated, including the following:

· Teachers will be evaluated using a scale of four levels for performance (highly effective, effective, needs improvement and unsatisfactory), instead of being evaluated as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In 2009, 99.7 percent of teachers earned a satisfactory evaluation.

· At least half of an educator’s evaluation will be based on student learning gains for classroom teachers, 30 percent for non-classroom personnel and 40 percent for school administrators, instead of 100 percent of the evaluation being based on principal or peer review.

· Teachers in hard-to-staff subject areas, like math and science, will earn more money, instead of paying all teachers – regardless of subject taught – using the same scale.

· After July 1 of this year, new teachers will work on annual contracts, instead of receiving tenure after three years of satisfactory evaluations, which is essentially an employment contract for life.

This is the second year the Legislature has attempted to pass a merit pay bill, with former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoing the bill last year after teacher protests. This year, the response from teachers was muted and Scott indicated early on his support for tying teacher pay to test scores.

It’s a top priority, though, for the new Republican governor and the first to get his signature. The GOP-controlled Legislature put the bill on a fast track and passed it just a week after this year’s regular legislative session began.

“This is a momentous occasion for our state’s education system,” Representative Erik Fresen said. “Excellent teachers are the driving force behind student success and this bill provides for a system that recognizes those highly effective educators and rewards them appropriately.”

Scott, a former hospital company executive, also is a proponent of publicly funded but privately operated charter schools like the one he’s chosen for the signing ceremony.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (34)
  1. Bob says:

    So he’s cutting funding for school, then going to make the school year longer and with more hours? Where is this money coming from? Who is paying for the test the supply’s and now Scott even wants the state to pay for drug tests. Don’t worry people Scott will be gone soon and his successor will fix everything. Watch 2011-12 school year is goin to be a disaster and everything will change. Do the math, with this many cuts and this many lay offs, with no jobs being created and kids and mental patience status in Florida society being stripped away is leading us into a failing system.

  2. Andrew says:

    So to all of you potential teachers out there, let this be a warning.
    Before you invest tens of thousands of dollars, 4+ years of continuing education (i.e. college/university), and taking tests, in order to become a teacher, all of that investment could be deemed invalid by a classroom full of students who are unruly and/or refuse to do any work in order to achieve a passing grade.
    Not only will you lose your job, but you will be ‘black-balled’ from teaching.

    Seriously consider investing in a different major, or becoming a teacher in a different state.

    1. Steve Westman says:

      Amen!(I’m the husband and father of teachers!)

  3. Ashley says:

    This is ridiculous.

    Athletes should then ONLY be paid their millions if and when they score a certain amount of points..

    Education in Florida is going so down hill, it’s unbelievable.

    1. Carol says:

      I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

  4. Andrew says:

    We need constructive classes that teach students ‘skills’ that pertain to everything they will do in life.
    Testing is NOT a solution for students who never learned HOW to learn.
    The first course that needs to be included in the student curriculum is ‘Organization Skills’, and this needs to be part of instruction starting at the First Grade level.
    So many children never learn how to properly organize in such a way that would actually benefit them, saving them time, and making school a much more effortless and successful experience for them, not to mention making teachers’ jobs a little bit easier when it comes to grading papers and such.

    Another thing … teachers are not trained to teach with a ‘best practice’ approach. What I mean by this is, there are some outstanding teachers out there, winning awards and such, but those teachers’ practices are NEVER taught to other teachers. The way it works now is, every teacher is thrown into a classroom, simply told to do the best they can to garner interest from the students, and a wish for ‘good luck’. Yes, there is some first-year teaching nonsense about being assigned a veteran teacher to consult with, but that does not accomplish what I am talking about. We need to incorporate ‘best practice teaching’, perhaps as a mandatory 1-week training course for all new incoming teachers, with additional teacher workshops throughout the year. Without something like this in place, the “Merit Pay Bill” is bull-crap! – meaning, the Governor and his cohorts are NOT showing support to the teachers, and it’s this lack of support that is pissing off most people.

  5. Harriett says:

    There is no doub that all public schools in Florida will be closed by the end of Scott’s term. The money will be given to private businesses to run substandard charter schools. He does not care about the people of Florida only about funnelling the money to private businesses.

  6. albert says:

    republicans still tring to privatize everything

  7. albert says:

    how did this guy get elected…2012 lets give these republicans a mass exit and reclaim this country from corporate america……..

    1. pita says:

      This guy got elected by a bunch of Tea Partiers who can’t see beyond the end of their noses and could only see that they “want their country back”, so would vote for ANYONE other than a Democrat. Whatever happened to checking out where a candidate stands on issues, knowing how those positions will affect the overall picture, and checking out a candidate’s resume and qualifications, and not voting for ignorant criminals who already proved that they are not trustworthy? From what I’ave seen so far from this administration, we’ll be lucky to not be standing in “ration” lines by the end of his term. I think he should be recalled and as quickly as possible

    2. Patricia Kingman Rix says:

      he got elected because of voter apathy…..turnout was terrible. his win margin certainly couldn’t be called a mandate. just pray he’s gone before the state is completely detroyed.

  8. Andy Carr says:

    The end of public education is here from our criminal govenor.

  9. george says:

    Next we need legislation that ties doctors and hospital’s pay to performance. If the patient’s health improves the doctor and the hospital get paid more. If the patient does not improve or worse yet, dies, the doctor and the hospital should not be paid.

    1. pita says:

      In the paper this morning, he is refusing to take the steps necessary to comply with the initial phases of the Affordable Healthcare Act and is looking into privatizing or shifting the responsibility for public healthcare to private hospitals instead of the ones now owned by the counties like Jackson, Memorial and Broward Health. He’s dismantling everything in the name of big business one step at a time. It’s no wonder he doesn’t practice the Sunshine part of our state laws. He’s afraid of the backlash.

  10. Paul Reynolds says:

    The problem is having teacher work year-to-year. He should allow for 4-6 year reviews to allow new teachers to acquire the skills needed to teach. Otherwise, the good teachers will die out/move on and no new teacher will ever gain the skills needed to teach.

    I derive the 4-6 year review from a typical political election cycle. If politicians get 4-6 years, so should teachers.

  11. Everett Hill says:

    The whole Arizona and Wisconsin political movement is coming to Florida…I’m already packing! Retiring too before they raid the Social Security fund.

  12. QI77 says:


    The REAL TEACHERS, those that are THE BEST OF THE BEST have no reason to be concerned by the passage of this Legislation …

    The REAL TEACHERS with whom I have had an opportunity to discuss the MERIT Legislation, privately support the concept, and view it as a way for School Administration to finally “take out the trash”

    Only the bottom feeders, the uneducated and under educated “educators”, that came into teaching because they thought it was a “free ride” …

    Those that just put in their time, so they can reach that 100% State funded retirement …and all that DROP gold … they are the ones that may have reason to be concerned …

    They may actually be forced to TEACH !

    1. pita says:

      Q177 – I couldn’t disagre more. I know good teachers, and they are in agreement that there are students that they just can’t help. When you get into the inner city and schools where most students are ESL or the parents don’t make sure the students are there, have breakfast, do their homework, and have a study ethic, there isn’t much the teachers – even the good ones – can do. The teachers have them for an hour a day in the upper grades – other teachers and their parent or guardian have them the rest of the time.

    2. Andrew says:

      This sounds like a post from a clueless politician or his/her family member.
      And just what kind of schools/neighborhoods do these “BEST OF THE BEST” teachers teach in?
      How many parents show up on Parent night?
      Judging the quality of a teacher based on student test peformance ONLY works when ALL students make an effort to learn.
      And it is common knowledge (to ‘intelligent’ people) that there is a strong correllation between student effort and parental influence, which has nothing to do with a teacher’s teaching ability.
      I have a superb teaching ability with those who have a desire to learn. Many people think I work miracles when I tutor their child.
      But in a classroom full of students who were ‘pushed thru’ 4 years of schooling by teachers who feared losing their jobs and principals who feared a low school rating, to change the habits of those students in 4 months, who were taught that they can get a passsing grade by doing NOTHING – well, half of the students were able to learn enough to pass of what I taught them, some putting in more effort due to ‘parental intervention’, while the failures never thought I was serious about requiring them to do homework and counting their test grades of 15% and 20%, not to mention their parents never demonstrated the importance of education.

    3. Carol says:

      You are 100% right because I used to teach children at home and the would often ask me how my teacher didn’t teach me that and I would always tell them maybe I went to school at a different time.

  13. Rohieram says:

    GOP = Pol Pot of America.

  14. pita says:

    Our students are not being taught “critical thinking” needed to get along in today’s world – they are being taught to the test. They can look at a multiple choice question and figure out by elimination the answer – sometimes. I agree that BAD teachers – ineffective over a long period of time with complaints from parents that are verified by their peers and supervisors, but 50% based on a test in an area where 50% of students are ESL, 20-25% live in poverty is not the place to base teacher performance on a test.

  15. Carol says:

    What I want to know is how long has been since “Y” isn’t a vowel?

    That is why kids can’t spell because sometime “Y” sounds like “E” or an “I”.

    Just because Wheel of Fortune doesn’t use “Y” as vowel that doesn’t mean that is right not at all.

    I am glad he signed it now he can go onto other business.but this change is way past due and that is a fact.

    Another fact is the parents have to play a bigger rule in the chidren’s education and not to expect service I know what I speaking about because the parents never ever helped their children with my homework so there was 80% chance for not to be done. So in that respect I do feel badly for the teachers I really do.

    1. pita says:

      Sorry, Carol, but I wouldn’t brag about being a teacher – your punctuation, spelling, and grammar are terrible. And we aren’t taling about vowels – we are talking about jobs and teacher pay. You seem to be agreeing with both sides here – I’m not sure where you stand. Most people here, so far, don’t think it is a good thing that he signed the merit pay bill. Most people are for getting rid of really bad teachers, but Metit pay ties 50% of the teacher’s evaluation to student test scores, when in fact, the lack of progress may be something else entirely. The evaluation should be done by the principals so they can determine what the lack of progress might be. Not student test scores alone as student performance is usually as much the parent’s fault as it is anything else combined.

  16. Carol says:

    I forgot also “Y” sounds like an “A” because when there are two (2) vowels together like in the word “PLAY” the first vowel has the long sound.

  17. Patricia Rix says:

    Why on earth would any good teacher want to take a job in Florida. The way our “leaders” are gutting education in the State is criminal. Teachers pay in Florida is already among the lowest in the country–even Mississippi pays them better. And what company would want to move to a state where their employees can’t get their kids a good education. Is this part of our Gov’s job creation plan????

    1. pita says:

      It is part of his plan to attract businesses to Florida. We already had low business taxes, so it wasn’t necessary to cut them further – but he did. Our schools have been improving over the past few years, until he gutted the budget and now has linked test scores to teacher performance/raises,. So he reduced the revenue into the state unnecessarily and is driving the teachers away – you are right – who wants to move here? He will single-handedly destroy this state. When he left HCA he was bought out – they just wanted him to leave.

  18. No $ for merit pay- get real! says:

    WANTED- FLORIDA TEACHERS: Low pay. No job security. Poor working conditions. Must pay for supplies with money from your own pocket. Bring your magic wand.

  19. QI77 says:

    PLEASE … Patricia Rix

    One could only hope that you are not teaching … and that your statement that “even Mississippi pays them better” does not demonstrate your “vast intelligence” …

    Remember you are posting on a quasi-adult forum … and we are not the children in your class … that must take all the BS that you “teach” as fact …

    The fact is Florida teachers earn an average of $43,302 for a 10 month period, an have recieved an avergage increase of 29.9% during the past 10 years **

    Mississippi teachers earn an average of $40,576 for a 10 month perod. they have received an average increase of 46.5% during the past 10 years **

    Connecticut teachers are the highest paid at an average of $59,304 for a 10 month period, and recieved an average increase of 18% during the past 10 years … **

    Perhaps you might try discovering information on the INTERNET before you demonstrate your great command of knowledge …

  20. CHUCK HANEY says:


  21. pita says:

    Thank you for your comments. I am not a teacher, but I know teachers and you have so eloquently summarized the children that need help the most that will not get it now. I want to personally thank you for caring so much and for giiing of yourself to improve their lives. I am speechless .

  22. pit says:

    Do you mind if I share your letter in another venue? I want so much to bring our situation into a larger forum so people can see what this clueless excuse for a governor is doing to our children and our beautiful state.

  23. Tom U says:

    interesting that no where in the bill does it say how much a meritorious teacher will earn. No funding source or amount is mentioned. How can they pass a law without any details about how it will be funded?

  24. pita says:

    There was a very moving comment by Laura D – It went straight to the heart of the issue with examples of why the new system will not work. I am wondering why it was removed – is there some kind of pressure coming from Scott and his henchmen?