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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Did "collaborationist approach" hurt Florida in Race to the Top?



It is widely perceived and reported that Florida fell short in the Race to the Top competition because it shunned collaboration with districts and teachers unions. But a group that works to improve teacher quality and recruitment through alternate routes says the opposite happened.

Unlike Tennessee and Delaware, the states that won the first round of competition this week, "Florida actually took the collaborationist approach ... 'You can participate or not participate, we're not going to mandate anything'," Tim Daly, president of The New Teacher Project, told The Gradebook. "What hurt Florida in the scoring is that its reforms did not have the ability to have a statewide impact."

Those other states have already implemented policies similar to SB 6, the controversial bill now steaming through the Florida Legislature. And like Florida Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith and Sen. John Thrasher, Daly suggested passing SB 6 will improve Florida's chances in the second round of Race to the Top. "What Florida is doing with this bill is doing what the winners did," Daly said. "They're locking in a statewide approach to bold reform ... That's what the (Race to the Top) reviewers wanted to see."

"It's clear that Florida needs to do something on teacher effectiveness because it's had a lot of data on teacher effectiveness for years," said Daly, whose organization recruits teachers for about 30 districts nationwide. "You have to deal with that as a state. You can't wait for every district to step up separately."

Daly also took aim at the argument that SB 6 would deter people from entering the teaching profession. Given the likelihood that teacher salary scales would be altered so new teachers could potentially earn more money sooner (instead of tolerating miniscule step increases for years and years), SB 6 may actually entice more people into teaching, he said.

"It would be much easier to sell the profession to other people ... if the salary scale was related to their success," he said. "If it was a deterrent, we'd be the first to say so, because we're the ones that have to recruit the teachers."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:56am]


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