Pinellas teachers rally against SB 6
Teachers in Gov. Charlie Crist’s home county of Pinellas took to the streets Thursday, hoping to convince him to veto SB 6. More than 200 gathered near the Tyrone Square Mall alone, waving signs and getting supportive honks from hundreds of passing motorists. At one point, a plane flew over with a banner: “Gov. Crist pass teacher tenure bill you won’t pass November.”
“How bad does he want the U.S. Senate?” said Ann Preus, a 26-year teacher at Blanton Elementary, referring to Crist’s bid for federal office. “We don’t need more tests. Please.”
“I’m really not a robot,” said Westgate Elementary teacher Karen Stockton, who was wearing a home-made robot costume, “but they want to turn me into one.”
Crist's comments this week have given teachers hope that a veto might actually happen. But two Florida Board of Education members with close ties to Crist - Roberto Martinez of Miami and Kathleen Shanahan of Tampa - told The Gradebook that’s unlikely.
“I think he is concerned by the issues that parents and teachers are raising with him. I think he needs to listen to them,” Shanahan, a Crist appointee. “But I don’t doubt that he will sign this bill.”
Martinez referenced a carefully worded statement that the governor’s office Monday afternoon, in which Crist commended a House hearing on the bill - the same one condemned by many teachers as a sham - and said, “I look forward to the continued dialogue and hope to have comprehensive reform bills on my desk for action this Session.”
“I’m going to put my trust in the fact that what he has said in the past and as recently as earlier this week is the governor’s thinking,” said Martinez, who chaired Crist’s transition team and speaks to Crist regularly. “I have no indication that the governor is going to veto this bill.”