Florida Senate Bill 6–innocuously titled Relating to Education Personnel–is the type of legislation that if passed, is a voter coalition-builder of the Most Certain to Vote: Florida’s educators.
As summarized by Florida Today , the bill is “…a measure that would gradually do away with tenure and eventually put teachers on an annual contract that would not be automatically renewed. The legislation would create an evaluation system that would tie teacher pay to gains in student test scores.”
Teaching Moment #1: What do teacher tenure and the dodo bird have in common?
Here in Brevard County, new Florida teachers are contracted annually for the first three years of employment. A professional contract is subsequently offered and is subject to review every two years. Professional contract holders cannot work towards continuing contract. Continuing contract–commonly referred to as tenure and tossed about as a code word by many a state legislator, guaranteed to get the goat of those who feel educators have a cushy, part-time, guarantee of a job–has not been offered to educators for many years and is fast going the way of the dodo bird, as those who hold such contracts age out and retire from the profession. It is most neatly and completely extinct.
Which could prove a similar fate to those state legislators who voted yea to SB-6. Here at home, those state Senators include Mike Haridopolos (R-District 26) and Thad Altman (R-District 24). (Peruse the March 24 Roll Call vote here).
Teaching Moment #2: Who is the head Dodo in charge?
John Thrasher (R-District Eight) is the chair of the Florida Republican Party. (Say it with me class: CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Thrasher IS a sitting Republican state Senator AND heads his state’s party). Thrasher is also the sponsor of SB-6. (Read the legislation here).
Thrasher was heavily supported for the GOP leadership position by former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, who appointed Mr. Thrasher to the Clay County Board of County Commissioners, year 2007-2008. Mr. Bush–who appears to be holding true to his intent to shadow our state government, although at this point, it borders more on infiltration–chairs the “think tank” Foundation for Florida’s Future. In a recent interview regarding SB-6, Mr. Bush promised “… a lot more testing that measures not just reading and math but other classes as well in the future, which he welcomes.”
Brother Neil Bush financially benefited through legislation championed by his brother while governor that resulted in the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, an annual assessment of students grades 3-11. He co-founded a company called Ignite! Learning that created software used in Florida for FCAT. (The Washington Post gives more on this story).
I’ll leave you, dear reader, to to sharpen your Number 2 pencils and connect the follow-the-money dots.
My guess is the complete picture will reveal one very large Raphus cucullatus.