Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida needs SB 6 to win Race to the Top, education commissioner says

The problem with Florida's Race to the Top application was not too little teacher support, Florida education commissioner Eric J. Smith says.

The stumbling block, Smith contends, is the lack of law tying student achievement to teacher evaluation and compensation — something Florida's teachers are battling to stop.

"Tennessee and Delaware have in place statutes that are very similar to Senate Bill 6," Smith told the St. Petersburg Times in his first media interview since Florida failed to win a federal education reform grant from the Obama administration.

"If we're able to have legislation for this to be implemented statewide, it strengthens the application. It gives the assurance we will deliver," said Smith, who has advocated heavily for the measure and accused teacher groups of intentionally misrepresenting what it would do.

The National Center for Teacher Quality put out a report just before this week's Race to the Top grant announcement, which went to Delaware and Tennessee, signaling that those two states (along with Rhode Island) had strong laws in place to back proposed reforms dealing with improving teacher quality.

Florida, it noted, had a strong set of proposals but depended on voluntary participation by teachers and districts to go along with the state's Race to the Top plan.

Smith said that paper offered the first indication that Florida might not get the $1 billion it sought from the federal fund.

"This is what Race to the Top is about, connecting student achievement to evaluations and compensation," Smith said. "It comes back to our capacity to deliver."

A careful review of the score sheets from the U.S. Department of Education for Florida and the two winning states confirmed his viewpoint. The area carrying the most points was "Great Teachers and Great Leaders," and Florida fell short of the others in that key provision.

Smith acknowledged that having stronger stakeholder support also would benefit the state's effort. But he suggested that after multiple meetings with Florida Education Association leaders over the state's plan — including right before Smith, Gov. Charlie Crist and others went to Washington D.C. to defend the plan — it remained clear that the teachers union would not offer its backing.

That despite what he deemed every effort to structure the proposal to give local school districts and teacher associations leeway to develop the specific details that would implement the overarching policy of pay for performance.

That's a policy that Smith is steadfastly convinced Florida should adopt, regardless of the anger teachers have shown over Senate Bill 6. The state needs bold reform, he said, not pilot projects.

"We have a chance to pass a good law and work with our teachers to get it passed," Smith said, noting the bill provides three years for writing rules and procedures. "If we can get some benefit of Race to the Top funding, that would be helpful. But not essential."

The next deadline for Race to the Top applications is June 1. The Florida House Education Policy Council is scheduled to hear House Bill 7189 (its version of SB 6) for eight hours on Monday.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Florida needs SB 6 to win Race to the Top, education commissioner says 04/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 9:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents

    Politics

    TAMPA — Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

    A report by Save Southern Heritage Florida includes the "affiliation" of more than 100 people who spoke at the July 19 commission meeting in favor of removing  the Confederate monument from in front of the old county courthouse in Tampa. People on the list say the report was meant to intimidate and harrass opponents of the monument. Save Southern Heritage director Doug Guetzloe said the report is "opposition research" meant to to inform elected officials about who was speaking on the issue.
[Save Southern Heritage Florida]
  2. Gen. Votel interview: 'A bit of a stalemate' in Afghanistan, but a chance to optimize gains there

    Military

    In developing the plan for the war in Afghanistan that he announced Monday night, President Donald Trump consulted with advisers including his military leaders throyugh their chain of command.

  3. Water Street Tampa unveils illustrations showing downtown's transformation

    Business

    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  4. Bill Nelson shares Rick Scott's cautious stance on Confederate monuments

    Blogs

    On the issue of Confederate monuments, Sen. Bill Nelson is taking the cautious route of Gov. Rick Scott.

  5. St. Pete Beach to vote on loosening drinking rules for hotel guests

    News

    ST. PETE BEACH — The city commission will vote Tuesday night whether to allow alcohol on the beach.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering. [Times files]