Florida Senate rejects amendment to give effective teachers 3-year contracts
Entering debate on Senate Bill 736 over Florida teacher contracts and evaluations, senators filed five amendments. Four withdrew, hoping to keep the legislation intact on its fast track to Gov. Rick Scott.
Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat and retired Leon County superintendent, held firm. He proposed changing the bill to allow school districts to grant 3-year contracts to teachers evaluated as effective or highly effective, rather than keeping them on annual contracts that require renewal each year. Those teachers who receive a poor evaluation in two years of three would not be able to take advantage of the longer term.
Montford said his amendment, which did not win support in committees, would give teachers some job security, as well as creating some dedication of teachers to their school districts.
Discussion on his proposal was lengthy, and not completely along partisan lines.
Sen. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican, backed the idea, saying it simply made sense to give teachers a three-year contract if they are to be evaluated on three years of performance data. Sen. Gary Siplin, an Orlando Democrat, suggested the amendment added nothing positive to the bill.
But the prevailing mood of the Republican-dominated Senate was against the concept of "tenure" or anything that guarantees a job to a public school teacher. The amendment "sounds reasonable," said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice. "Yet it is consistent with what we are doing that is not working. Your amendment puts us pretty much back to current law. It's not reform and it's not change."
Montford said he was simply attempting to make a good bill better. His amendment failed on voice vote, and the members moved on to the main bill for questions on second reading.