Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A | Kim Black

Q&A with the Pinellas teachers union president

The election of Gov. Rick Scott has prompted many conversations among Florida school districts about whether teachers unions and the things they stand for are endangered species. Scott's comments have focused on weeding out bad teachers, eliminating many employment protections and scaling back some benefits such as pensions. Some union leaders have started talking compromise. Others plan to fight back. Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president Kim Black spoke with Times staff writer Jeff Solochek about unions, politics and Florida's future.

What is the future for Florida teachers and their unions?

The role of the union has obviously changed, but the main role is to advocate for the workers. … Every county is different and every county has different needs and different student populations. That's why we continue to fight for local control, because we believe the citizens of the community and the students we serve know best the needs that they have.

What percentage of teachers do you have as members that actually pay and participate?

PCTA membership is at 53.5 percent.

Do you think if lawmakers take away tenure it will gut what you have?

Well, that is a real misunderstanding that people have with the word "tenure." Teachers don't have tenure. What they have is the right to due process or the right to a fair dismissal, if you will. And that's all we're asking for — the right to recruit, retain and the right to a fair dismissal, a fair hearing, a voice in the process. In an ideal situation in the state of Florida, every employee would have that right, not just in education. … You shouldn't be able to be terminated without being able to state your case.

Is there a middle ground? Does there need to be some sort of new evaluation system, new contracting or certification system?

I haven't met a teacher who appreciates the current evaluation system that we have. Here in Pinellas we have worked with our administration to develop a new evaluation system that's not so subjective. It is being piloted in the schools that are under the differentiated accountability model. But I think it's important to look at what that means. … There is room for improvement. There is room for growth. We can bring people back together and look at what is working and what's not working.

Q&A with the Pinellas teachers union president 01/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  2. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pittsburgh stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32 (left), was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with boss Larry McCabe when he saw three men …

  3. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  4. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.
  5. Lightning prospects mantra: You never know when NHL chance will appear

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Brett Howden said he watched closely last season as former junior teammate Brayden Point made an remarkable rise to a Lightning regular in his first year pro.

    Lightning prospect Mikhail Sergachev skates during the Lightning Development Camp Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]