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Veto SB 6

Apr 8, 2010

By Dan

This morning I sent the following letter to Gov Crist regarding SB 6. It is my hope that he does the right thing and rejects this legislation....

The Honorable Charlie Crist
Governor, State of Florida
Tallahassee, Florida 32399 

Governor Crist,

Veto SB 6.  I make this request as a legislator and as a parent of three children enrolled in Florida’s public schools whose education I believe will be imperiled should this bill become law.

The problem with the bill is it assumes the best way to weed out bad teachers is to assume all teachers are bad. While other states are addressing teaching tenure by simply modifying the number of years it takes to obtain tenure, Florida would take the drastic step of eliminating tenure and forcing teachers to work on year-to-year contracts. For a profession that, in our state, is already paid $5,000 below the national average, this will be demoralizing in the extreme.

More importantly, the measure will set Florida down a path that subjects our children to theories and assumptions that may have disastrous effects on their education.

First, it requires the implementation of pre-tests and end of course exams in nearly every classroom in Florida and ties performance on those tests to teachers’ pay. Yet, there are presently no models for such tests and no districts have even tried such an experiment. It assumes that teachers should be responsible for factors affecting students beyond the teachers’ control like socioeconomic conditions and family circumstances. And it fails to address how performance will be evaluated in non-core subjects or where students arrive with specific special needs like language deficiencies or other challenges.

Second, it diminishes experience and formal training as a legitimate factor in evaluating teachers. Ironically, while we tell our students to seek higher education and training, this bill advances the opposite lesson: don’t seek higher certifications and degrees because it won’t impact your professional success.

Some have dismissed these concerns with the simplistic platitude that ‘Florida needs to be a leader.’  I don’t believe this sets Florida apart as a leader as much as it makes our children the canaries in the coal mine.

Finally, while you have previously expressed support for this concept in theory, I believe circumstances have changed since your previous comments. Florida’s failure to receive Race to the Top funds last month suggests that any movement toward merit pay needs buy-in from teachers which the two states who did win Race to the Top grants had.  SB 6 does not have buy-in from our teachers. If you were to veto this measure immediately, it would give the legislature the opportunity to craft a proposal that is more thoughtful and has teacher support. This could open the door to millions in federal dollars which Florida’s underfunded school system desperately needs. 

Please veto this bill upon its arrival on your desk. It's the right thing to do. 

Dan Gelber      

Share your thoughts with Dan

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I totally agree. This is a bad bill and will decimate the teacher population in Florida.

Once again, you are my hero! Ceresta

EXCELLENT! Thank you for supporting Florida's children!

You are the MAN, Senator Dan!

Thank you!!!!

Thank you for standing up to this horrible Bill It will literally make Florida look very bad and no teacher will teach in florida

Thank you, Dan! As a teacher who has just started a PhD program and hopes to remain in the state in which I was born, I appreciate you encouraging Crist to not decimate my career! As it is, getting rid of my National Board Mentoring and loss of a Department Chair position when I changed schools cost me over 10% of my income! This bill would ENSURE that I either get out of teaching or out of Florida!

I really haven't been aware of any other candidates running for office except Crist and Rubio. I am a teacher from Jacksonville and I thought your letter to Gov. Crist was excellent. Thank you for being so supportive of the teachers in our state. I will definitely be looking to vote for you and will make sure everyone knows of your feelings about such a terrible bill.What bothers me the most is their continued use of the phrase - weed out the bad teachers. What is their definition of a bad teacher or in another light - a good one.?

This bill needs a veto by Crist.I was a special education teacher in Cherry Hill N.J and this issue was addressed by teachers and administrators not legislators.

Excellent letter - I pray he reads it and takes heart...

Awesome letter! Thank you from a parent with three children in public schools. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement. Stop blaming teachers. Parents need to be accountable for their own children.

I agree with Dan Gelber 100% ! I am a single mother who is attending school full time to get my certification for teaching. Now, I am considering changing my career path because of this Bill. I am appallled that Florida politicians know what is best for public education without even regarding what teachers think about the Bill.

Thank you very much for your support! you have my vote!

Dan,That is a terrific letter. Like you, I have written the Governor expressing my thoughs on the matter as well. Although not as eliquently as you have (and admittingly with a tad more sarcasm), it is very reassuring ot see that others have the same feelings I have about this atrocity to out children.Keep up the great work and hopfully this will all be a thing of the past in a few more days.Sincerely,Michael J. McMahon

Amen! Valid points, let's hop he vetos!

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