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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 04/15/2010

Crist vetoes bad bill, Florida teachers win

By Valerie Strauss

Teachers in Florida can breathe a temporary sigh of relief now that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) announced that he vetoed legislation that teachers said would have devastated their profession and harmed public education.

On a day when President Barack Obama was in the Sunshine State on other matters, Crist broke with his fellow Republicans by rejecting the education reform plan passed by the Republican-led Legislature and supported by former governor Jeb Bush.

Senate Bill 6/House Bill 7189 would have stripped teachers of tenure, linked teacher pay to student standardized test scores, eliminated experience and advanced degrees as part of a teacher’s evaluation, and required the creation of a slew of new standardized tests for Florida’s already over-tested kids to take.

Crist, who had received more than 100,000 cards, e-mails and phone calls opposing the plan, said at a news conference that he was vetoing the bill because it was "contrary to the best interests of the people of Florida," according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

He got that right. The big winners of all of that would have been folks in the test creation and test preparation business. For now, at least, that payday will be delayed.

The Republicans in the Legislature who pushed this legislation despite loud protests from teachers and superintendents around the state are not likely to give up without a fight.

They wanted this legislation to become law in part to win money from President Obama’s Race to the Top fund, a competition for $3 billion in federal funds for education reform proposals that align with Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s priorities.

While there are a lot of unpalatable things about Race to the Top, the Florida legislation took to extremes some of the initiatives supported by Duncan.

Still, Race to the Top promotes some initiatives, such as linking teacher pay to standardized test scores, that experts say will do nothing to improve education but help drive good teachers out of the profession.

But for now, teachers in Florida and beyond can take some comfort in the fact that a Republican governor stopped a dangerous train from leaving the tracks.


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By Valerie Strauss  | April 15, 2010; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  Race to the Top, Teachers  | Tags:  Crist and teachers, Crist and veto, Crist vetos bill, Florida governor vetoes bill, Florida teachers, Senate Bill 6 and veto, Senate bill 6 vetoes, crist and teachers, crist helps teachers, crist veto, florida and race to the top, teachers bill vetoed  
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Good for you Governor Crist. As a Florida teacher, I cannot convey how difficult it is to keep kids engaged in my science class. Competing with T.V., PS3, Wii, Facebook, texting, etc, is a real challenge. I try to do 3-4 science labs a week, show a demo daily, and integrate technology like science video clips pertaining to the current benchmark. Even than, I see kids trying to peek at their cell phones, attempt to text and seeing kids read texts from their parents! I see these kids for 1 hour a day (next year it will be an additional class period with only 50 minutes with the kids and LESS planning). The bill Crist vetoed would have based teacher salary solely on test scores. If parents can't be held responsible for their own childrens school performance, than how can the Sarah Palin party hold us 100% accountable? Here is my recommondation: If the Florida Tea Party legislature is so gung-ho on accountabuility, I suggest that we have a referendum in November: If the state unemployment rate goes above 10%, ALL legislatures are FIRED along with the current Governor. If the parents refuse to show up for ALL parent conferences, and don't monitor their childs work and progress, than that parent will have to pay an extra tax. If the state agrees to these provisions, than I would be in full support. As an independent, my vote has recently gone to Democrats, for the Tea Part Republikans are completely out of control and want to see our country develop third world status. Governor Crist: Run as an independent and you will have my vote. P.S. Governor Bush: Thank goodness we have term limits! Please go back to Crawford and hang out with your bro: THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER.

Posted by: motampa | April 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

what a huge relief. let us never again get this far down such a destructive path.

Obama - take Duncan to the woodshed and straighten this guy out.

Or put him on the bench, send him permanently to the locker room or whatever it takes for him to understand that education is not a sports event with winners and losers.

Posted by: efavorite | April 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully citizens will begin to realize that educational "reform" is really about test companies and other businesses attempting to fleece the taxpayers out of money intended for schoolchildren.

If you want to see improvements in education, look to the people who spend their time with our nation's children: parents and teachers. And they do it for modest salaries or no money at all.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | April 15, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Teachers win and students continue to lose.

I wonder when Charlie Crist is going to drop out of the Republican primary, becuase he's finished as Republican in Florida. If he makes it to the general election (only likely now as an independent) he definitely won't be getting my vote.

First they were complaining about "No Child Left Behind"- and now "Race to the Top. Expecting any sort of support from Florida teachers, beyond throwing more money at the problem, is likely to be rejected.

Posted by: moebius22 | April 15, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Here's Governor Crist's veto message:

Pretty good reading, whatever his motivation(s) might have been

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Posted by: FairTest | April 15, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

He calls for a do over of a bill that he himself backed!? Maybe if he wasn't trying to juggle running for the Senate seat, while he pretends to be governor, he could have put forth fixes to the bill before resigning us to square 1.

Florida is now set to lose Round 1 and 2 of "Race to the Top". The teachers could care less, becuase they already got their stimulus...and Crist...Crist just hopes he wins his election.

Posted by: moebius22 | April 15, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

While Florida espouses to "higher standards to compete in a global economy", the bottom line is that the kids just don't get it. The Curriculum developmentally inappropriate for young children and produces nonreaders. If students do not obtain a certain score on the FCAT, the are retained and subjected to the same mystifying classroom instruction that teachers are required to teach or face discipline.

Posted by: roosboys | April 15, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Crist has just drawn the line in the sand.... Rubio has officially met a strong and able opponent who will take the rightwing agenda down. Even if Rubio gets the 'pube nod this cycle, Crist will go Independant and kick his Limbaugh lickin' butt...this Floridian loves this news.

Posted by: seakeys | April 15, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Florida Senate: Rubio 45%, Meek 25%, Crist 22%

Rasmussen Reports are usually on the money.

Posted by: moebius22 | April 15, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

A little late for the blogwar, all the kids left, so just enjoy the sandbox.

Posted by: redisni | April 15, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

redisni, please post anything of interest- if you can mange it.

Posted by: moebius22 | April 15, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope this warns young people who go into teaching not to take a step inside of the state of Florida.

Thanks Valerie for protecting the rights of teachers.

Posted by: jlp19 | April 15, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

jlp19--I know an outstanding teacher who was planning to move to Florida this summer. She is midway through her teaching career, LOVES what she does, has many specialties (literature, gifted education, art, math). But she has changed her plans based on what is currently happening in Florida. She figures it's too risky, especially since she is not 22 and just out of college. I wonder how many other good teachers will change their plans or not even begin a career in Florida.

Posted by: aed3 | April 15, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Calling Arne Duncan -- are you appalled by how you've turned Florida education into a boxing match between the legislature and the governor?

Sure makes for great sport, doesn't it?

Posted by: efavorite | April 15, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Too bad the educators and the lawmakers could not come to some sort of compromise. Some of the Republican ideas are good, research based, and forward thinking. Some are subjective and punitive to educators and students. Surely, these groups could have come together and compromised, thereby creating a bill that would have been beneficial to the students of Florida. What a sad example for students everywhere.

Posted by: 12345leavemealone | April 16, 2010 6:28 AM | Report abuse

So now the veto fallout begins with former Sen. Connie Mack removing his support as campaign chairman. His own party will try to destroy him. Everyone wants better teachers, but using the theme of TENURE and UNIONS is baseless because neither exists in the State of Florida. It makes for a good soundbite, though. For a party that spouts fiscal responsibility, they wanted to cram a $900 million boondoggle unfunded mandate down the throats of school districts that are broke. That is the real story! It is time for sane Republicans to retake their party. The people of Florida have spoken and you were part of it.

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | April 16, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations Charlie Crist! In the 50's and 60's America had the best education system in the world."school reformist" managed to "fix it" into poor disorder! The politicians, pointy headed professors, and program and curriculum companies should now stand in judgement for there failures, such as "goals 2000", "NCLB",and SES. Lets link there pay to there performance, terminations should be in order, and no tenure given...Instead of trickle down, lets trickle up from the first grade and find out what went wrong? The politicians and curriculum companies wanted to blame "bad teachers", now its time to blame bad politicians and curriculum. tr

Posted by: roosboys | April 16, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Yup ... the clear follow to the story's lead is -and children lose.

The teachers union is the most repressive and obstructionist union in the history of the United States. They worry they're not good enough to actually teach so they avoid anything that makes them prove they can.

Hurray for Florida Virtual School! FLVS produces better and more highly educated students than any brick and mortar school in Florida. And if you actually followed the bill you'll see that cuts and non-funded mandates were placed in the bill that negatively affected FLVS -which traditional "teachers" hate.

So, I'm glad it was vetoed for the sake of FLVS. But sad for all the students who will continue to get third-world quality teaching.

Posted by: topwriter | April 16, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

"Senate Bill 6/House Bill 7189 would have stripped teachers of tenure, linked teacher pay to student standardized test scores, eliminated experience and advanced degrees as part of a teacher’s evaluation, and required the creation of a slew of new standardized tests for Florida’s already over-tested kids to take."

Stripped teachers of tenure? You're not telling the whole story. New teachers would have been subject to this proposal for a prescribed time (five years?) but not teachers already in the system.

Linked teacher pay to student standardized test scores? This is going to be the law of the land everywhere within five years. School systems simply could not continue with their embarrassing subjective "evaluations" they've employed for decades. Lawmakers and the public have demanded better.

Eliminated experience and advanced degrees as part of a teacher’s evaluation? Did you mean these two variables would have been eliminated from determining teacher pay and reduction in force parameters? What did you mean? What were you talking about?

Required the creation of a slew of new standardized tests for Florida’s already over-tested kids? Val, like it or not, students are going to be tested via third-party state tests. You know the reason for all this as well. Classroom teacher evaluations of students have had too long a history of embellishment, to the point where they could no longer be trusted. State legislatures and taxpayers had to make an effort to get an honest picture of how students were actually performing.

If the WaPo ever decides you're too biased in the wrong direction or simply too irrational I'm sure you could easily catch on up at Fair Test in the People's Republic of Cambridge with Monty Neill, Lisa Guisbond, and Bob Schaeffer. It's obvious you drink the same brand of kool-aid as they do.

Posted by: phoss1 | April 16, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Jeb Busch wants to cry foul over Charlie Crist veto of Floridas senate bill 6. Jeb, you had 8 yrs. as govenor of Florida, implementing your own reforms. You didn't turn your back on the school system, except to fill you and your brother's back pockets with profits from all your educational companies.The curriculum advanced under your watch has been a failure. My personal favorite, mandated by the FDOE, was forcing teachers to develop learning centers. Dividing up the classroom into 4 or 5 different tables. Teachers with 4 or 5 eyes in their head, and a neck that rotated 360 degrees would have no problem. Turning your back, while students were scattered around the classroom, really made a lot of sense. The "school reform" forced teachers to use a canned curriculum, developed by the FDOE, complete with a group of fascillitor police who traveled around to check up on them. In the 50's and 60' America had the best educational system in the world, we put men on the moon, now the "school reforms" have put people into poverty. Why don't we go back to the wonderful days of yesteryear, and let teachers start teaching the

Posted by: roosboys | April 16, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

RttT, like it's parent, NCLB will do nothing to improve education. You could call it "reform," but it is non-productive reform and we will waste another 10 years trying to figure out how to fix the problems.

RttT sends a message that is disheartening to those of us in the classroom, and even more importantly, sends a message to the public that even the POTUS does not support teachers.

Interestingly, RttT is a perfect example of what is wrong with public education...too many people who are not/have not been in the classroom are making policy and decision's which do not address the real problems. Reading the forums on the internet addressing public education issues, it is interesting that very few people who are in the classroom, actually working with kids, support this initative.

Tenure is not the problem...the questions must be asked...who gave these people tenure? Who allowed these people to become teachers? The line points directly at local administrators and Universities School's of Education. No one, and I mean no one, ever wakes up the morning after receiving tenure and says, "Starting today, I'm going to be a lousy, lazy teacher." They should have been counseled out of the profession a long time ago.

Ironic, since RttT holds the very people accountable who, with the exception of parent's, want nothing more than for kids to succeed. It's like holding the nurse accountable because she/he administered the medications prescribed by the doctor to a patient who never took care of themself.

Posted by: ilcn | April 16, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Unions win, students lose!!! No wonder Marco is kicking your butt!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | April 16, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jjstred | April 16, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Many students take their educational opportunities for granted. While it's true that there are some very poorly trained teachers, it's also true that some students do not want to do the necessary work involved in learning difficult subjects.

I was one in high school, but I matured by the time I was in college.

Posted by: readerny | April 16, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I am a teacher in Illinois and followed this story closely. I am glad that Gov. Crist vetoed this bill. I am not against merit pay, but I am against basing it solely on standardized testing. Those tests are not indicative of what a child is capable of producing. Some are simply not the greatest test takers. Some just don't care. Also, when you tie it to that then you've got teachers who aren't going to help one another because they're too concerned with making sure they do an even better job, so they can keep their job and get more pay. There would be little room for collaboration. Just something to think about.

Posted by: mschigirl | April 16, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I think that too many legislators remember a time when elementary school children were in a single classroom with the same teacher all day long. This is no longer the case. I watched the 3 third grade classes at my school "switch" for math the other day. They were divided among 5 or 6 teachers--the 3 classroom teachers, 2 academic support teachers and the special ed/resource teacher. They are not grouped in their "regular" class and the groupings change as needed throughout the year so that the students receive the most appropriate instruction. How can anyone really tell who impacted their academic growth? This happens in reading as well. Other subjects impact reading and math skills as well. Relying on a single standardized test just doesn't give the information necessary to determine whether or not a teacher is doing a good job of teaching! Kids are not widgets.

Posted by: musiclady | April 16, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I bet everyone who crticizes teachers in Florida has never taught in a classroom. Standardized tests are fine. Tying raises to them exclusively misses the point of having grades.

Posted by: anti1 | April 16, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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