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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Same bill, different facts: Jeb Bush's education foundation backs bill that FEA boos



On Monday, the Florida Education Association slammed the bill moving through the Florida Senate that would change the way teachers are evaluated and paid. The union argued current law is good enough to remove bad teachers, and to say otherwise is a myth.

Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future fired back today with a set of its own myths and facts, with its main point being the exact opposite of the union's. It's too tough to fire bad teachers and the law needs major change, the foundation states.

Hmmmm. Wonder which side the GOP-dominated Legislature will side with as the bill hits committees starting Wednesday.

To see the foundation's presentation, read on.

"Myth vs. Fact: The Truth about Reform
Modernizing Teacher Evaluations, Tenure and Compensation for the 21st Century

Myth:    The current process for evaluating teachers is fine the way it is.

Fact:    Last year, 99.7% of teachers in the state earned a “satisfactory” evaluation, yet 50% of our high school students, 35% of our middle school students and 30% of our elementary students didn’t make a year’s worth of progress in reading.  (And 60%, 40% and 30%, respectively, were not reading on grade level.)  That’s fine?

Myth:   The bill will eliminate tenure in Florida.

Fact:   The bill doesn’t eliminate tenure for teachers in the classroom today.  The courts have determined that tenure is a property right and can’t be taken away by the Legislature. The bill does end the practice of granting lifetime guarantee of employment after just three years in the classroom.  Instead, new teachers will have annual performance contracts. 

Myth:    Annual tests are not a good measure of teacher effectiveness. 

Fact:    Annual tests are an objective measure of the knowledge and skills students gain from one year to the next.  If you believe teachers impact how much a student learns, then annual tests that measure progress are an objective measure of their effectiveness in the classroom. 

Myth:   It’s unfair to base teacher evaluations on student learning.

Fact:   Right now, teacher performance reviews are based on the observations and opinions of their principal – making these evaluations 100% subjective.  Using data for 50% of the annual performance review makes the evaluation more objective – and therefore, more fair. 

Myth:   The bill punishes teachers whose students are below grade level.

Fact:   The bill doesn’t punish teachers whose students are not on grade level.  The bill requires progress – what students learn during the year – to be considered.  Teachers can’t control what their students know when they show up on the first day of school, but they do influence what they learn during the year in their class. In fact, measuring progress may benefit teachers who teach students with disabilities and low-performing students the most.

Myth:   The bill cuts teacher pay.

Fact:   Under the bill, the more students learn, the more teachers earn.  The bill requires at least half of teacher salaries to be based on whether students are learning.  It also raises salaries for teachers in high-poverty schools and teachers of subjects that are in high demand, such as math and science."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:52am]


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