Teachers Weigh In On Merit Pay Talks

January 31, 2011

The Senate’s key player in the movement to reform teacher pay said Friday that there are still several major issues that the Legislature needs to resolve before pushing forward, including how it will fund merit pay and how teachers of special needs children will be evaluated.

“I think this is a complex piece of legislation and sometimes it’s not made in a year,” said state Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, the chair of the Senate PreK-12 Education Committee.

Wise and fellow committee member Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, took three hours of testimony at an open workshop on teacher quality Friday after a week of committee meetings designed to get the ball rolling on the legislation. Wise said he hopes to have a bill before the full Senate in the second or third week of March.

Republican lawmakers attempted to push through a teacher performance pay bill last year that partially tied pay to test results, but it was met with a firestorm of criticism from teachers around the state who said the proposal was unfair to educators. Originally a fan of the proposal, former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the bill, citing concerns over fairness to teachers, whose support was critical in his U.S. Senate race, which he ultimately lost to Republican Marco Rubio.

Gov. Rick Scott supports the concept and several lawmakers promised the issue of merit pay and teacher tenure would return this spring.

A draft circulated by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future a few months ago would put a newly hired teacher on a probationary contract, under which the teacher could be fired at any time during the first year. For the next three years, teachers would be placed on annual contracts that would be evaluated at the end of each school year. After that, teachers would be offered three-year professional contracts.

Scott told reporters Friday he supports the idea of performance pay for teachers, but also believes that a fair measurement system needs to be developed first. Scott’s daughter is a special education teacher.

“As you know, I believe we’ve got to make sure we keep the best teachers around,” he said. “One of my daughters is a teacher. So we’ve got to pay the best teachers the most. So we need to have a fair measurement system.”

Wise said all of those issues would likely be included in a final proposal, but details still have to be worked out, particularly how special education teachers should be evaluated, an issue brought up by several educators who attended the meeting.

“The issue has always been a difficult one for me,” he said.

Megan Allen, the 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year who teaches in Hillsborough County, told lawmakers she has been teaching for seven years and this has been her most difficult year yet, particularly in teaching students with special needs.

“I have struggled with my students, but I’m learning,” she said.

Allen said a merit pay system could work, but urged lawmakers to provide local control options because the needs of students in one county likely wouldn’t match the needs of students in another. Teachers, therefore, should not be graded by the same rubric.

“We must take into account the needs of our districts and realize one size doesn’t fit all,” she said.

Lawmakers must also work out how to pay for a performance pay system. The state’s Race to the Top money will help some districts put into place a system to evaluate educators, but the federal program does not provide dollars for a salary bump. There is a limited pool of state money for districts that want to participate in merit pay, but it is likely not enough for statewide participation.

Union officials have noted that so far the process of hammering out a piece of legislation has been collaborative, compared to last year when members of the Florida Education Association said they were shut out of negotiations regarding the bill. Anger over the exclusion led teachers to send floods of letters and emails to lawmakers last spring and to show up in large numbers at legislative meetings.

Connie Milito, a lobbyist for the Hillsborough County School District, said that lawmakers need to overcome teachers’ anger over the process last year, if they want to be successful in passing legislation this session.

“What everybody’s afraid of is not being a part of the solution,” she said.

By Kathleen Haughney
The News Service Florida

Comments

18 Responses to “Teachers Weigh In On Merit Pay Talks”

  1. David Huie Green on February 2nd, 2011 11:53 pm

    REGARDING:
    “It surely is extortion when a group says “either you submit to our demands or we will strike and damage your business.’ “

    Consider if a contractor says “Pay this price or we won’t build your road.” Is that extortion? No, it’s a job offer. Same thing. If you had a contract and it lapsed, you would be negotiating whether or not to continue work. You don’t have to work without a contract.

    AND
    “If employee (singular) and employer reach an agreement to provide a service for a rate of pay, that is called negotiation.
    When a group does it, normally it is called a mob, unless it is a government protected body called a union.”

    “This is my brother Earl and my other brother Earl. We’ll do the work for $100 and all the peaches we want to eat but we get to take off every third Thursday to go to the Moose Lodge hoedown.” not a mob, just a group negotiating to provide a service for certain considerations.

    To insist each worker negotiate individually would be totalitarian statism, especially if either Earl didn’t talk so good.

    AND
    “A union is only concerned with the contract at hand and it not interested in the health of the business; not unlike a common parasite on a host.”

    The smarter union negotiators know they make nothing if they aren’t hired because the company died or workers voted to reject agreement. It’s a balancing act.

    AND
    “Collective bargaining has no value; individual negotiation for pay, benefit, etc., is more capitalistic and is supported by free market.”

    Refusing to allow people to negotiate however they offer, is restraining the free market and essentially socialism in practice, since it decides the needs of the workers rather than letting them speak for themselves.

  2. SW on February 2nd, 2011 5:57 pm

    It surely is extortion when a group says “either you submit to our demands or we will strike and damage your business.’

    If employee (singular) and employer reach an agreement to provide a service for a rate of pay, that is called negotiation.

    When a group does it, normally it is called a mob, unless it is a government protected body called a union.

    A union is only concerned with the contract at hand and it not interested in the health of the business; not unlike a common parasite on a host.

    Collective bargaining has no value; individual negotiation for pay, benefit, etc., is more capitalistic and is supported by free market. Unionism is darn near communistic and socialistic in practice.

  3. David Huie Green on February 2nd, 2011 5:10 pm

    REGARDING:
    “Peaceable assembly is a guarantee, true enough. Is that assembly for the purpose of extorting an employer legal? Wouldn’t that be called conspiracy in any other circle?”

    Unions have done many illegal things. Those should be addressed, of course. However, saying something like, “We will work for you under these specific conditions….” should not be illegal. So, no, I don’t consider it extortion as long as they are saying they will not work for less or other than any given set of conditions . It might well be called “conspiracy” but for legal purposes, not illegal ones.

    One thing a union does is keep up with promises the employers made and which employees made and see that they are straight with each other.

    As soon as unions no longer serve a useful purpose, they will fade away.

    David considering merits of collective bargaining

  4. SW on February 2nd, 2011 3:37 pm

    Peaceable assembly is a guarantee, true enough. Is that assembly for the purpose of extorting an employer legal? Wouldn’t that be called conspiracy in any other circle?

    The right to form a union and collective bargain was given by Congressional Acts. Unions are not good for business; they certainly should not be allowed in the public sector. They may have had their place once, but now Unions are nothing more than government protected extortionists. Businesses can’t legally resist the formation of a union because the government won’t allow it.

    At least in a business (private sector) situation, the business is using its own money to pay the employee and can do whatever the market will allow; in the public sector, the employee is paid with our tax dollar.

    I am not against a merit based employment so as to protect against unfair labor practices; I am however, against unions for public sector employees.

  5. David Huie Green on February 2nd, 2011 11:50 am

    Yep, it would be nice if exiting were simpler. Some could be graduated several years before others and if they knew the exit strategy involved work and completion of studies rather than spend time bothering others and ignoring the teacher, who knows but what things might just be improved.

  6. think it through on February 2nd, 2011 8:13 am

    Anti-government school system does NOT have to be anti-education. I learned little (that was wholesome and practical) in the public school system in comparison to the large amount of time I spent there.

  7. David Huie Green on February 2nd, 2011 7:10 am

    REGARDING:
    “or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,”

    If people wish to assemble, that includes forming Elks Club, Rotary Club, AFL-CIO, they can.

    If they wish to speak through their assembly, they can.

    Doing away with unions would do away with their right to assemble and to speak as they chose.

    David thinking it’s no stretch

  8. SW on February 2nd, 2011 3:32 am

    Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    (Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net on 2/2/2011)

    Don’t see ‘Right to form Unions’ in the First Amendment, David; maybe in an extreme liberal interpretation, but it don’t say it.

    (I believe that’s why the NLRB and the DOL were formed; to support the unions.)

  9. Citizen on February 1st, 2011 10:13 pm

    If you’ve never walked in their shoes, go sign up to volunteer and see what all they have to deal with. Better yet, go do it in a special needs class if you want a good feel for it. The ratio is about 12 students to 1 teacher and an Aid. They deserve every penny they make and some. These teachers are the ones that mold our children into becoming good listeners, attention to authority, enhancing their learning ability, social skills and on and on. I can’t say enough good about all of them. They are what’s making our kids become part of the future. Just look at it this way. You can go out and drive a city bus and make just as much if not more than someone who is responsible for the edcuation of our children. Needless to say, it’s obvious which requires all the degrees to apply. Not knocking the bus drivers, just comparing the two to prove a point. I feel every one has a purpose in life.

  10. David Huie Green on February 1st, 2011 6:31 pm

    assuming life would be better without unions, how do you get around their first amendment rights to form?

    David the doubtful

  11. SW on February 1st, 2011 12:09 pm

    Get rid of unions and let each employee be compensated based on qualification and performance.

  12. David Huie Green on February 1st, 2011 10:34 am

    REGARDING:
    “Shut the whole system down, phase it out.”

    Shut down public education?????

    Seems extreme.

    David wondering at anti-education proposal

  13. David Huie Green on February 1st, 2011 10:32 am

    REGARDING:
    “We are called God to teach……………”

    Actually, few teachers are called God.

    David also thinking
    not all were called by the Lord
    (just guessing)

  14. L. GIbson on February 1st, 2011 8:35 am

    AMEN DR. KEVIN LINAM !!!!!!!

  15. Dr. Kevin R.Linam on January 31st, 2011 9:16 pm

    All teachers deserve way more than we earn………..but we don’t become a teacher/coach for the money, but to serve and if it’s not a calling, do something else!
    We are called God to teach……………

  16. Observer on January 31st, 2011 6:48 pm

    This debate has gone on for a generation. Education has too many intangibles, gray areas, and constantly changing policies. Regardless of what standards are measured it will not be fair to all and will certainly will favor some groups over others. Lawmakers are not knowledgeable or qualified to establish pay standards for education. This debate will never end. The establishment of three or five-year contracts are certainly better than the forever standard we have now. The debate continues…………….

  17. think it through on January 31st, 2011 6:42 pm

    Shut the whole system down, phase it out.

  18. Dixie Chick on January 31st, 2011 8:07 am

    If lawmakers rate teachers pay on performance then I think taxpayers should also pay the lawmakers based on their performance!! What is good for one is good for the other.





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