Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SB 6

Currently, in Florida, there is a measure in the State Senate and House of Representatives that radically changes how teachers are paid and assessed. Basically, to the everyday person, the bill reads like this: "Teachers will now be held accountable and earn their salaries based on student performance. If your county decides not to adopt this policy, you will have to pay A LOT more in taxes!"

Honestly, that sounds good, right?

Some of the main points of this "wonder bill," however, include:
  • elimination of tenure (aka job security)
  • basing teacher salary on student performance. A suggested model of pay includes guaranteeing teachers 1/2 of their current salary, and the other 1/2 would be based on student performance, which is from a SINGLE, HIGH-STAKES TEST. We had numerous students "Christmas tree" the exam a few weeks ago, and proceed to sleep for the remaining 40 minutes.
  • If a district decides not to adopt this pay scale, the millage rate (rate on which people are taxed, based on home value) would face a SIGNIFICANT increase.
I wrote to my state representative, as it has sadly already passed the Senate. The following is my email:

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email.

My name is Amanda Easter and I am a 23-year-old, second-year teacher in Hillsborough County. I came to Florida to attend USF from Connecticut, and I graduated with a degree in elementary education in 2008.

I come from a long line of public servants. My father is currently a captain of a fire department in Connecticut, and he is the 3rd generation of professional firemen in our family. My brother, David, aspires to be a member of the 4th Easter generation of firemen. I truly believe I was called to the field of education when I was a child. I have always done my very best in order to achieve my goal of being an effective teacher in the classroom.

Mr. Homan, I cannot express my fear of what will happen if SB 6 passes. I completely understand why there needs to be more accountability in the classroom, but to base my pay on a single, high-stakes standardized test is completely unthinkable. I have students who "finished" each section of the FCAT this year in 20 minutes and then proceeded to nap. These students will dictate my pay for the next year?

If I wanted to have a job in a field that was based on commission, I would have gone into sales. However, I chose to go into education, because I want to open the minds of today's young people, and tomorrow's leaders. SB 6 is creating a classroom that is run on commission.

I am given 60 minutes with each of my students in my classes. I have my own high expectations of how I want to perform, and in turn how they will perform; however, I only have them 1/24th of their day. If we are talking about waking hours, I have them for 1/16th of their day, which begs the following question: where is the parental and student accountability for their performance?

Ryan Haczynski, a teacher in Durant, wrote the following piece, titled "Terrible for Teachers" that was recently featured on . To quote an excellent point, "in what other public-servant sector do we demand such accountability? Do we blame police officers for arriving at the scene of a crime too late? A firefighter for not saving a home from the flames?"

Mr. Homan, I beg of you: DO NOT VOTE FOR SENATE BILL 6! I don't even want to THINK of what will happen to teacher morale, teacher quality, or student performance! It is a terrible bill.

Thank you for your time.

Folks, I am SO SCARED about this! I wrote the email with tears in my eyes and on my cheeks. This is really scary and I don't know what to do! I know that I can't do anything about it, but it's a lot at stake. My job worries aside, this is going to SHAKE to the core how students are taught and the kind of people becoming teachers.

/end rant.