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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Would SB 6 really help Florida's Race to the Top efforts?



Florida education commissioner Eric J. Smith thinks so.

But is he right?

A spokesman for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Gradebook that Duncan won't be commenting on SB 6. The department has taken a hands-off approach to anything touching upon Race to the Top, for fear of looking as if it's giving hints on how to win.

But Duncan has made comments about his views of teacher tenure in the past that, combined with a review of the actual points assigned to Florida's application, might seem to bolster Smith's position.

Duncan, Dec. 2009 -- “In our exemplary system ... tenure decisions would consider in significant measure whether teachers improved student performance -- or set students back behind their peers. Weak teachers would have supports and opportunities to improve their skills. But if they failed to improve after receiving help, they would be counseled to another profession.

Unfortunately, laws that empower this vision of teaching excellence and support exist in few states. So when you return to your statehouses after this conference, I encourage you to review the state code book on the teaching profession with an eye to answering two simple questions: First, does a provision ensure that students — especially disadvantaged and underserved students — will be taught by an effective teacher? Second, is it fair to adults?

Let's be honest when we see a law that protects an adult interest, but does not advance those of our students. Let's be honest when a law stifles teacher and principal innovation and creativity, or inhibits the flow of talent into the profession.”

Duncan, July 2009 -- “We created tenure rules to make sure that a struggling teacher gets a fair opportunity to improve, and that's a good goal. But when an ineffective teacher gets a chance to improve and doesn't — and when the tenure system keeps that teacher in the classroom anyway — then the system is protecting jobs rather than children. That's not a good thing. We need to work together to change that.”



[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:58am]


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