Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Madeira Beach Fundamental teachers tell Gov. Scott they are 'suffocating' under FCAT emphasis

Principal Chris Ateek, left, checks out Gov. Rick Scott’s boots at Madeira Beach Fundamental on Wednesday.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Principal Chris Ateek, left, checks out Gov. Rick Scott’s boots at Madeira Beach Fundamental on Wednesday.

Sitting in a circle with Gov. Rick Scott, a group of teachers at Madeira Beach Fundamental spoke frankly about how their profession has been "degraded and demeaned" to the point where they dread people's reactions when they say, "I'm a teacher."

One said she felt her role had been reduced to that of a puppet, told what story to read on which day of the week. Another said teachers work extra hours and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on school supplies yet their pay and benefits have been attacked.

"We are suffocating our heart and soul," said David Tagliarini, a 23-year teacher. "I can't tell you how many of my colleagues — good colleagues — who are looking for another field."

Scott met with about 15 teachers Wednesday at Madeira Beach Fundamental as part of a statewide listening tour to hear from teachers and parents about education. Teachers were invited to one hourlong session, while parents were asked to another.

Scott told teachers he thought most people were "very appreciative" of them. The group said that message doesn't reach them — except, perhaps, from some of their students' parents.

"We are educated professionals, and that's not how we feel," said Amy Thomas, an eight-year teacher.

Teachers noted that the state cut $1.3 billion in education funding last year — putting about $1 billion back in this year — and that Scott signed a merit pay law that does away with teacher tenure and ties performance evaluations, in large part, to student test scores.

Tagliarini, a band director, suggested that "master teachers" in the same subject judge their peers, rather than principals or assistant principals.

Scott also visited Miami, Jacksonville, Boca Raton and Fort Myers this week.

He said that while each group has been different, some themes stood out.

"The teachers want to make sure they're respected and rewarded fairly," he said.

Scott has been criticized for making the tour invitation-only, shutting out other elected officials, the public and the media during the sessions.

On Wednesday, the governor's office eased some of those restrictions. A spokeswoman said reporters in Fort Myers were allowed in so long as television cameras were turned off.

In Pinellas County, school officials and reporters were told to leave the sessions. But the governor's staff opened both sessions to reporters after three Pinellas County School Board members stayed in the room and a reporter raised questions about a potential violation of the state's Sunshine Law.

Under the open government law, board members can attend the same event, but can't speak about issues that might come before the board.

Both sessions at Madeira Beach Fundamental, held in the school library, were informal and polite. Scott showed off his cowboy boots to parents, while he reminisced about a recent visit to the school with teachers.

Some of Scott's statements were familiar Republican talking points —he said the state needs "choice and competition" in its school system — while others suggested he was keenly aware of the intense criticism this year of the state's testing system, which has been riddled with problems.

"While we need accountability measures, they have to be something that makes sense," he said.

"So it's not just teaching to a test."

Scott didn't get into specifics Wednesday, saying his goal was to listen.

During the parent session, Elizabeth Fehr, mother of an eighth-grader, told the governor that the FCAT and other standardized tests were "pressure cookers." Her son does well in school but has struggled with testing, she said.

"I don't think (poor test results) should exclude them from a diploma," she said.

Pinellas Board member Linda Lerner, who didn't speak during the sessions, said afterward that she thought the governor did listen.

"I hope he learned something from it," she said. "Time will tell."

Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at cfitzpatrick@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8846 or on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

Madeira Beach Fundamental teachers tell Gov. Scott they are 'suffocating' under FCAT emphasis 09/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.