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Teacher’s Union Attacks Thrasher’s Teacher Pay Bill

TeacherAppleTN1The state teachers' union on Monday launched its attack against a piece of legislation that would dramatically change Florida's educational landscape and force school districts into compliance with some Race to the Top provisions should the state win the grant money.

Last week, state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who is also the newly elected head of the state Republican Party, filed a bill that would demand that teachers get paid based on student performance, rather than on the educators' years of service. Schools that fail to comply with the new system will be penalized, losing a percentage of their state funds, under the bill.The teacher's union is mounting a campaign against the legislation, which labor leaders say could be the “ruin” of Florida schools.

“It lashes out at teachers who make Florida the model for the nation,” said FEA President Andy Ford.

Ford, surrounded by other Florida school teachers, said that the state already has laws in place so that administrators can fire ineffective teachers. The legislation, the group said, does not take into account challenges that some teachers face, particularly in poor areas where students also have to support their family and are malnourished.

Shari Lynn Gewanter, a kindergarten teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Tallahassee, said she has spent three or four days per week helping an individual kindergarten student with her letters.

“This time at 120 days into the school year, she's finally got A, B and C,” Gewanter said. “Huge growth. Can you measure that in a test score? I don't think so.”

The measure, which has been a major tenant of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education reform package, is also supported by the majority of the Senate's Prek-12 Education committee as well as some key education committee members in the Florida House. Business groups, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, are also supporting the proposal.

Supporters say that the legislation would get rid of ineffective teachers who are not helping students learn.

It could also throw some kinks into the union's opposition to the Race to the Top application process. When the state applied for about $1 billion of the federal government's $4.35 billion competitive grant for education reform, the union largely refused to sign a memo supporting the grant application process over the merit pay issue and heightened graduation standards.

According to the state Department of Education, if the state wins the grant, individual districts and local teachers unions, must submit an implementation plan for the reforms the state laid out in its application to the federal government. If the unions refuse, then the districts could lose out on the money.

However, if SB 6 wins passage, teachers would have no choice but to comply with the merit pay provision of the application, automatically pulling some districts in line with the state's education reform goals.

“Some of this legislation might help some of that, might relieve some of the burden that's left to the local level,” Commissioner Eric Smith told reporters last week.

Ford said the FEA is still hopeful that the legislation will fail, which means the union would still be able to mount an objection to the Race to the Top money, should the state receive the federal dollars. He stopped short of saying that the FEA would file a lawsuit if the bill passes, though.

“We'll see how that road develops,” he said.

32 Responses »

  1. This Thrasher Bill for our public schools is an insult to all public school teachers!
    We are feeding breakfast and lunch to school children, and providing after school
    programs for students at risk. In short, we are parenting many of our students!
    Many of our children from poverty environments or English as a second language
    homes need extra help to be brought up to grade level achievement. It is unfair to base a teacher's income on how well students perform on some achievement test. This would be like paying your doctor based on how well a patient recovers. Some ignorant legislators even want to cancel the class size mandate which we voted into law so that students can receive the attention they need in smaller classes. Research has shown this is more effective than most other considerations. If we want to promote graduation from high school, we need to educate students at all grade levels and not just warehouse them for 12 years.

  2. Spoken like a true 'educator' these days: "We'll see how that road develops." Huh? Roads don't develop. As the rest of the world has either fully embraced or is about to embrace the idea of pay for performane, everyone in the working world must prove his or her worth daily. There is no doubt the government-run school system is at the trailing edge of progress.

    • It is obvious you have no clue. Teachers are evaluated every year based on their performance.Teachers also have to 120 hours of inservice related to their teaching subject.Tell me what requirements are needed yearly for a bussiness job.

      • Wilder-
        Obviously you have never ventured into the real business world. Most jobs like sales, support and manufacturing are justified by the RESULTS. If you fail to sell you are fired, if you can not support the products or customers you are fired. As the auto industry has finally started to learn, if you produce poor products your company will fail.

        The REAL WORLD is driven by those that take and manage success over risk!

        So then why do teachers fight to keep the bad and poor teachers? If MOST teachers are truly interested in providing quality education the good teachers would want the poor teachers removed. Yet that does not happen!

        Like in the Real World, a performance based system will help mange the salary to reward the better teachers - are you afraid you are in the poor performance zone?

  3. More money will never solve the education problem, ergo as long as the teacher's union rules "supreme" nothing will change. Thrasher's idea is a good start in mitigating that power. More power to him.

  4. To the uninformed, this bill looks good. A closer look reveals that it is redundant and represents a net loss in funding spent in the classroom on students. The idea is good. However, this bill is a shotty attempt at publicity for Thrasher to look like he is doing something. We Republicans need to make sure we are not shooting ourselves in the foot. Being a Republican is about responsible use of public resources. This bill is irresponsible won't help students in the state.

  5. What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

    Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

    This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

    8th Grade Final Exam:
    Salina , KS - 1895

    Grammar (Time, one hour)
    1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
    2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
    3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
    4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
    5. Define case; illustrate each case.
    6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
    7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

    Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
    1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
    2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
    4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
    5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
    6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
    7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?
    8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
    9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
    10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

    U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
    1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
    2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
    3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
    4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
    5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
    6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
    7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
    8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

    Orthography (Time, one hour)
    [Do we even know what this is??]
    1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
    2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
    3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
    4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
    5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
    6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
    7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
    8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
    9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
    10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks
    and by syllabication.

    Geography (Time, one hour)
    1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
    2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
    3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
    4. Describe the mountains of North America
    5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
    6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
    8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
    9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
    10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

    Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

    Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!

    Also shows you how poor our education system has become while costing more and more tax dollars.... the results are less than acceptable.
    Keep legislators OUT of the public schools... government is NOT the answer, Parents get invovled with your child's education!

    • Well stated, our schools are failures because of the Teacher's Unions and the Department of "So Called" Education. These entrenched buffoons who could never hold a real job in the business world - where you do get paid to produce results! Their goal is to dumb down the American populace into SHEEP! Mind numb, ignorant of the true history of this country; How it started, What God did we serve, and Why we did not copy any of the failed European governments! Pull your kids out of Government schools and teach them the truth or this country will fail and fall by the wayside.

  6. Wow, Mr. Thrasher,lets try that same concept with the medical community and see how far that goes! As a nurse educator you can provide materials and teach the patient how to prevent or manage his disease,but if the patient is not engaged in improving his health,should I be punished with a cut in pay?
    It is no different with our public school educators who spend day in and day out with students who have parents who are MIA. My husband is a H.S. teacher who makes calls to parents when "little Johnny" is disruptive in class or if his grades are not improving.The kids who are skipping school,fighting,cursing at the teachers have apathetic parents who think the DCS's can fix what they have spent years neglecting to do. Don't punish the ones trying to help the students ,make the parents accountable!

  7. I'm including a clip from a DTU email (I still get them even though I was downsized at the last budget cut). Has anyone thought about what will happen to the communities whose teachers didn't meet the new "standards"? All areas in the { } are my personal asides.
    * Property Tax Penalty: The bill would require any school districts that fail to “reward quality classroom teachers based on performance or for districts that pay for number of years worked, or degrees held”? ”or who fails to maximize student learning by not providing appropriate incentives” shall be required to levy an additional school property tax equal to 5 percent of the districts salaries -- and the state would withhold a matching amount of state general revenue dollars from that district as a penalty. This revenue is said to be compensation for the loss of state funding caused by the failure of the district to comply with the new rules. {Yes, I would LOVE more taxes!!! NOT.}
    · Compensation and Salary Schedules: A salary schedule must base more than 50 percent of each employee’s compensation on student learning gains, as established in rule by DOE. {As someone who got cut due to "last in, first out" policy, I'm not the biggest fan of seniority. But it DOES have a place in all employment systems.}
    · The salary schedule would not be subject to collective bargaining and the state will decide what categories of differentiated pay will be provided for. Length of service and degrees cannot be used in salary schedules. {The system's way of saying "So suck on this, every PhD Education major! Why'd ya bother?"}
    · Probationary contracts are issued for up to five years, after which a teacher could get an annual contract if they are rated effective or highly effective, which will be defined by the DOE, not the school district. The state will have a much greater hand in appraisals. {current standards are a three year probation, the length of time it takes to complete state certification. Would you want to wait FIVE YEARS to know YOUR JOB was safe?! Even after jumping through all of their hoops? Didn't think so}
    · MORE TESTING for students (end of course for all subjects) and for teachers (certification and recertification). {Do I even need to comment here?}

  8. Well, by all means, let's spend more money on testing! With today's tight budget it is such a great idea to pre-test and post-test all students including ESL, Kindergarten(btw some of these ones come in not even potty-trained), Physical Education, Driver's Ed, Pottery, Home Ec, etc!

    And, certainly, it's a great idea to spend more time on testing instead of actual teaching! I don't think the average citizen is aware of just how much time we spend just on testing. First came FCAT. Now we test the FAIR test three times a year just to know how prepared they are for the FCAT! Now we are looking at more testing?????

    Lawmakers need to get a clue!

  9. need to "thrash" Thrasher right back out of office, he is NOT an educator and should have his hands out of the mix,all he sees is dollar signs, not the real picture..... question If teachers need to take a pay cut, in half I am sure, like any can afford that, I guess ALL of the legistlators need to take 1/2 pay cut too...highly unlikely that that will happen. Trying to "outsource" education to a below minimum wage job just is not gonna work. before you know it the subs will be teaching the classes, all teaching jobs will be filled by Kelly services.
    Who can work at such a pay cut for a whole year and then HOPE to make the almost impossible to reach expectations for the rest of their salary...
    Real economic stimulus....more foreclosures, more unemployed

  10. Folks, it is time to wake up. The education system in this country is a joke. The NEA gets funding equivalent to $13k per student and yet no results worth a damn. For this amount of money these children could attend private school and get an education from qualified educators. Once again a union gets in the way of the purpose. There are too many teachers that either can't or don't teach and they ride the "comfort wagon" once they get tenure. Case in point; my children's fourth grade teacher in Mandarin could not teach fractions because she did not understand the math. Thankfully my wife and I volunteered under the Math Superstar program and taught the children otherwise they would have been passed through without the knowledge. We continued to teach after our children moved on. Most every employer/industry rewards employees based on merit/production. Robert Askren...it is not up to the schools to parent the children! Education starts in the home and the parents need to get off their asses, get off the entitlement programs and teach some responsibility to their children. They need to parent and become responsible Americans! Do away with all unions and we become a better society. There was a need for unions at the turn of the century however this is 2010; stand up for yourself! Produce and be rewarded based on your own merit!!

    • Good for you Thanks you for helping out these kids. Every time we start something new the kids that are being used as a test group get left behind. Remember the Manditory bussing kids most of the white kids dropped out due to unsafe schoole they had to be bussed to.

  11. Regardless of ideology, we should not allow our state government to micromanage our local school districts. This is not a matter of teachers unions' control of politics but the rights of localities to determine how their operate their schools. The same conservatives who opposed the federalization of schools with the Department of Education and decry the erosion of states' rights are the same ones who allow Tallahassee to grab more power from local governments. This is a bad precedent for the state to interfere with the level of government that is closest to its people.

  12. Long time "real Republican" and two decade Duval County Teacher's Union member here. (No that doesn't have to be contradictory - remember Ronald Reagan?)
    Have seen the county wide tests, state wide tests, merit pay, and misc. etc. come in and out before. Essentially political wonks + overly schooled and under educated, Education Phds = overworked good teachers and bored top students.
    The paraphrase Machiavelli: We are more concerned with appearances than reality"
    Good luck America!.

  13. If the florida education system is so bad, then why are there record numbers of students being accepted to universities. Keep in mind that the admission requirements at Fl universities are higher or equivilant to other state universities.

    • Wilder

      My brother retired from business and now teaches business investment in a University (with high admission standards). He reports that one of the largest costs at the college level is remedial education to fix the fact that most incoming freshmen are not prepared for college - specifically in English, Math and problem solving (rationale thought). The students are good at finding stuff on Google and coping it - but that means an F in his classes.

      So if the Florida school system is so good why are the colleges wasting the money on remedial education???

  14. Mr. Thrasher, I am not a school teacher, but my sister and brother in-law are. They are dedicated to there jobs and spend many hours off the clock to make sure there students are taken care of. They encounter many obstecals in their dailey education duties, mostley parents who don't care. It is a shame to penalize them for the failures within the family unit. There are many teachers including my sister and brother in law who give a darn about our childrens educations . I feel we have lost sight of what the real problem is. It's not about the teachers but the resources they are provided. One should not judge and propose this ridiculas law you propose without walking in their shoes. Many times when I call my sister she is working late into the night to ensure the education of her students. Does she get any praise for that, no what she gets is constant headaches from administration & government over how the students need to pass the govermental tests leaving very little room to actually teach. To group new teachers with those who have spent over 10+ years of educational faithfullness is a crime. Many of these teachers have inspired to higher education to benefit there students. Shame on the state for even thinking of dening them of what they deserve. I 've been in management all my life and you will always have those who do and those who do not, but to penalize those who do is wrong . I feel that as a parent we need to give more credit to the teachers who dedicate their lives to their students and less to the politics that rule them.

    • Joyce,

      Re-read your own comments for grammar and spelling. While the content of your comments have validity, you are proving just how flawed the educational system is.You don't inspire to higher education you "aspire"; they benefit "their" students not there students; it's ridiculous not ridiculas. These are the writing skills of someone who has been in management all of "their" life??

  15. If Mr. Thrasher thinks/feels that teachers should become salary plus commission workers based on students' results, I say let's pay him and the rest of the legislators based on how well the economy is doing at a state and federal level.

  16. I ditto what Mr. Mandarin said: "Folks, it is time to wake up. The education system in this country is a joke. The NEA gets funding equivalent to $13k per student and yet no results worth a damn. For this amount of money these children could attend private school and get an education from qualified educators. Once again a union gets in the way of the purpose. There are too many teachers that either can’t or don’t teach and they ride the “comfort wagon” once they get tenure. Case in point; my children’s fourth grade teacher in Mandarin could not teach fractions because she did not understand the math. Thankfully my wife and I volunteered under the Math Superstar program and taught the children otherwise they would have been passed through without the knowledge. We continued to teach after our children moved on. Most every employer/industry rewards employees based on merit/production. Robert Askren…it is not up to the schools to parent the children! Education starts in the home and the parents need to get off their asses, get off the entitlement programs and teach some responsibility to their children. They need to parent and become responsible Americans! Do away with all unions and we become a better society. There was a need for unions at the turn of the century however this is 2010; stand up for yourself! Produce and be rewarded based on your own merit!!" The unions have ruined our schools! PASS THE THRASHER BILL!!!

  17. The Teachers Union has ruined public schools!

    Most all Unions should cease to exist -- money and power have been their desire for too long -- the regular union worker does not reap grand rewards, but union bosses do, especially since Obama got elected!

    Yes, there are wonderful teachers, such as my son! However ...

  18. The Florida school systems, in the most populated areas, are an abomination comprised of left wing socialist who have taken Respect, Country, God and the three "Rs" out of schools and replaced it with political correctness with authoritarian rule You go Mr. Trasher!

  19. We need to reward the great Floridian professors and start isolating low performance teachers by title only.

  20. A group of smart kids in a class should demand money from the teacher if they perform well on the test. This would not be a bad idea if it is worth $25K to a teacher to give these kids $5K.

  21. There is enough research to support that the teacher is the most important variable in whether or not a student will achieve, not money, not programs but direct instruction by an expert in the curriculum that is taught with ongoing feedback assessment of student learning that is communicate to all stakeholders (parents, students, educators.)
    A poor teacher can have an adverse effect on a student's achievement for several years AFTER leaving that teacher's classroom. After 37 years of teaching, I believe that the administrators often do not initiate the appropriate mechanisms to remove poor teachers. Hold the administrators accountable for the quality of teachers that they supervise, retain and protect! I believe in merit pay and believe that you can monitor the effectiveness of teachers through student assessment as well as analysis of effective teaching practices. Exemplary teachers should receive higher pay!!!!!!!

  22. It lashes out at teachers who make Florida the model for the nation,” said FEA President Andy Ford.

    Now I am really confused! My district has all the groups with teacher backing that Florida is not a model for education in the US listed on their website.EDUCATION ADVOCACY GROUPS
    Fund Education Now.org
    Worst to First.org
    Children´s Trust.org
    50th No More.org
    Make Education a Priority.org
    Fund Education NOW in PDF
    Save Duval Schools.org
    Save Volusia Schools.org
    Save Brevard Schools.org
    Yes for Alachua Schools.org

    They argue that the lack of funding is the PROBLEM and they are suing to "force the legislature" to adequately fund education because the sorry state of education is strictly due to funding. Maybe Mr. Ford has a disconnect with his members? Did he mean to say we are a model of what should not be?
    This is atypical educational behavior, denial of events and a entitlement attitude that we are always in the right. I disagree with these groups and the educators. Funding is not the problem. The stats for education using the result model how many students earn diplomas has not varied nationally. They have not succeeded in changing the way they do business because their job has been to keep the status quo and lock out everyone but educators from the process. Also they have scaled up the need for college ready material to feed the educational assembly line that is college. As long as educators continue to control and mandate to the consumer how it will be done, no changes are going to occur. That was the Ford model, you can have any color vehicle, as long as it is black. They found that given a choice the consumer will spend more for options. We the consumer are not being given any options

  23. What he is proposing is that the professor no longer can flunk the lazy slob who needs to flunk because his pay will be affected. That is CRAP! Get a reality check Senator! The teachers are overworked, underpaid, expected to work miracles with brats from ******. They have out of control parents in their face if they dare flunk poor stupid bratty Jimmy for being disrespectful and lazy. AWWWWW! Do you have any idea how many college students are on their cell phones or Facebook during a lecture? Do you know how many try to copy from someone else who knows how to learn the material? And you want them to just pass them through?
    How about spending your time taking a pay cut instead of voting yourselves a pay raise? How about giving companies a tax break to bring jobs BACK to the USA instead of taking them to India? How about NOT raising the ceiling on spending? Stop wasting our money and tackle a real issue.

  24. This is typical GOP protocol. People just keep voting these creeps in and this is what you get.
    Thrasher is beyond CONTEMPT the really true meaning of all this "No Child Left Behind" Crap and all the other so called attempts to make every child smart when 1/3 of them are not is to DESTROY the public school system. Then when they have done that they will contract all schools out to their cronies and boy the kick backs come rolling in.