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Tuesday letters: Florida lawmakers should start over on teacher legislation

Teacher tenure bill

Start over with collaborative approach

"Shame on any public servant who doesn't listen to the people." This is a recent quote from Gov. Charlie Crist. These are good words, ones which remind us of the true purpose of the legislative process. Legislators represent the people. When legislators are elected from a district, they represent all members of that constituency, not just those from a particular party affiliation or those in line with their own agenda. This is at the core of the current issue of teacher tenure and the pay-for-performance issue.

Crafting a solution to this will only work if the problem is approached in a bipartisan manner with all of the stakeholders being actively involved. Recent ambush legislation by certain members of the Senate and House does not reflect this. All this does is alienate one of the major stakeholder groups and widen an already unproductive dichotomy.

There are, of course, complex problems to be resolved within this process. We all agree in principle that no one wants poor teachers in the schools. Yes, there are differences in strategy, but they can be resolved if approached with intelligence and open-mindedness. Making this work is going to take all groups sitting down at the table and working it through in a collaborative process. This is going to involve compromise from all parties, but consensus will result in a stronger outcome for everyone.

Gov. Crist, your decision will impact the future of all of Florida students. If we all want a quality outcome it is important that we do not treat this decisionmaking process like a high school popularity contest with just one winner and many losers. Veto SB 6 and make all the sides reconvene to create meaningful legislation to address this issue so everyone benefits.

Shame on any legislator who fails to grasp the importance of this.

Bruce Brodney, St. Petersburg

Teacher bill

Approve the legislation, and we can fix it later

I read your editorial from Friday's paper, An arrogant attempt to reform schools, and the one on Sunday, Veto teacher bill.

I was struck by the fact that if I didn't know this was about the "teacher bill" and you were talking about the state House voting, and not the U.S. House of Representatives, I would think you were talking about health care being rammed through.

But on to the "teacher bill." I fully support the bill. Where in the private sector do they not have their salary tied to performance? I hear teachers say they get students that are disruptive and don't want to learn. Take them out of the classroom and place them in special trade schools.

I have been a project engineer, a project manager and finally a project director, and not all jobs assigned to me were easy and not all were reasonable. You do the best you can and if the customer is not happy you don't get a raise or a performance bonus. That is life.

The "teacher bill" is not perfect, but as Nancy Pelosi said about "health care," let's pass it now and then we can fix it.

Daniel Pennisi, Palm Harbor

SB 6

Bill deserves a veto

I hope that we can count on the governor to veto the arrogant bill, SB 6. Why not take the time and have the respect that teachers deserve to write a bill that takes into consideration what teachers, students and parents have to say?

Even just looking at what Hillsborough County has done would be a step in the right direction. Obviously the originator of this bill has never spent much time in a classroom or talked to many teachers either. It is a destructive act against public schools. To add insult to injury, many teachers would have to take a pay decrease to pay for added testing. When do teachers get to teach? When did the legislators give themselves their last raise? They are constantly testing. The lawmakers are taking all of the joy out of teaching for both teachers and students.

This is from a grandparent who does not want her grandchild taught by angry, disappointed teachers.

Sally Coupal, Palm Harbor

The evaluation flaw

Socrates maintained that a teacher who is paid to teach cannot be trusted to teach the truth. I always told my philosophy students that they needn't be concerned in my classroom. I was not being paid to teach; I was being paid to put up with all of the bureaucratic nonsense that allowed me access to my students.

Merit pay schemes will always fail on this point. Any "device" invented to test a teacher's quality and effectiveness invites teachers to abandon real, broad-based education to better satisfy the measuring device; they will be encouraged to teach to the test. They will be "proving" Socrates' admonition.

Before retiring, I watched as teachers were "required" to adapt to and use absolutely lunatic systems, many of which had already been demonstrated elsewhere as counterproductive before being adopted. But some politician somewhere thought it sounded good and should be used. The unfortunate consequence of such foolishness is that between the time these things are put in place and the time they are replaced, any number of students will have been denied a proper education.

Let's hope Gov. Charlie Crist recognizes the problems in this bill that is now on his desk.

Joseph M. Joeb, Lutz

Retirees to Crist: Veto teacher bill | April 11

Punishing teachers

Thank you to the many folks from the Villages for expressing their opinions against the tenure and salary bill. Many of these residents earned and saved for the retirement that was negotiated with and by their companies. That is how the system is supposed to work.

It seems today legislators are presuming that too many teachers are inadequate and they are going to radically change the deal that was negotiated in good faith by all involved parties.

As a teacher of 31 years I have met a few underperformers, but very few. In this era, we must be able to keep up with new technology and new initiatives being introduced each year. If you are not smart and flexible, you will find the job is too time- consuming and difficult and you will to leave. We do not need state government to determine that.

As professionals we work very hard to prepare an often unprepared audience for the upcoming world. This bill makes us feel as though we are being punished instead of being appreciated as we deserve. Think long and hard, Gov. Crist. These professionals and voters will be waiting for your decision.

Diana Fauth, Gulfport

We're poorly represented

After the last few weeks of upheaval in Tallahassee in regard to the education bills, I am very worried about our representation in Tallahassee. Our so-called representatives voted without listening. There were many different polls saying the citizens of Florida were against the education bills. There were protests and thousands of letters and e-mails sent to them and they still voted against the wishes of the people who elected them. Do the citizens of Florida have representation in Tallahassee? Are these so-called representatives representing special interests in the likes of Jeb Bush?

The citizens of Florida need to remember these turncoats when re-election comes around.

Agnes Murphy, Valrico

Election reform needed

The current session of the Florida Legislature points up the need for serious reform of the process by which the legislators are elected. The ideology-driven agenda does not reflect the serious needs facing the state. The education reforms recently passed do nothing to address the real reasons why many children don't do well in school, which is lack of preparation at home. Teachers only have the children for a few hours a week, broken into five days, while parents have them many hours a week.

The need for the amendment changing the redistricting of legislative seats has been made abundantly clear with this session.

Jim Johnson, Spring Hill

It's different for lawmakers

It is not unusual to read where a relative, friend or good employee somehow gets someone else's checks, cash or credit cards and uses them to satisfy their own desires. These people often are tried, convicted and sentenced. They are called thieves.

However, if a politician does essentially the same thing, he gets bad press, sometimes a slap on the wrist, but more often, he gets re-elected.

Stephen A. Shiner, Hudson

Tuesday letters: Florida lawmakers should start over on teacher legislation 04/05/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:17pm]
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