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Anti-education bill passes Florida’s House

Public outcry puts pressure on Governor to veto bill


WASHINGTON - April 12, 2010 -

Despite a huge public outcry and against the advice of education experts, Florida’s House of Representatives has passed a hugely controversial teacher pay bill that would base teacher evaluations and pay more directly on students’ standardized test scores.  Last Friday, the House voted 64-55 to pass the bill already approved by the state Senate, but it is noteworthy that 11 Republicans joined all 44 Democrats in opposing the measure. The bill now goes to Gov. Charlie Crist, who has not indicated whether he will sign or veto it. Under Senate Bill 6 (H.B. 7189), virtually all school and personnel decisions would be based on scores from standardized, fill-in-the-bubble tests, and teacher contracts would be weakened and protections virtually eliminated.

The following statement may be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“The future of Florida’s public education system is in Gov. Crist’s hands. He should listen to parents, educators and all Floridians who are looking out for the interests of students.  If he signs this anti-teacher, anti-student legislation, it sends a devastating message to professional educators in Florida and all over the country. 

“Basing teacher pay on student test scores will not improve student performance or teacher accountability. If we’ve learned anything under eight years of No Child Left Behind, it’s that an overreliance on standardized testing undermines the quality of teaching and learning. It dangerously narrows the curriculum in schools, and it encourages all educators to reduce teaching to only those things that are on the test. Focusing on test scores in this way does not make our children smarter, more engaged, or better students, and it certainly does nothing to prepare them for college or careers.

“Teachers in Florida and elsewhere are eager to help students succeed, and we should be supporting—not undermining—their efforts. This bill will drive out our best teachers and discourage those who would consider teaching as a career.

“Collaboration among teachers, parents, community leaders, and other stakeholders is the key to successful efforts to close achievement gaps and serve underperforming schools. Florida’s legislators should be having deep conversations with educators about what it takes to turn around struggling schools. Their role is to provide Florida’s schools with the resources for real, transformative solutions.  Real reform is community-based, comprehensive and collaborative. Real reform does not come in the form of mandates made by state legislators in a last-ditch attempt to win federal grant dollars.” 

For stories, videos, case studies and more on educator-led, agreement-based collaborative work in public schools, visit www.nea.org/priorityschools

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Staci Maiers
(202) 822-7823, newsdeadline@nea.org