. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Oh, Florida...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oh, Florida...

I don't know about you, but I am glued to the goings-on is Florida.

You see, Florida Governor Rich Scott, just signed his first bill and it eliminates tenure for new teachers and changes teacher evaluations to be based, in part (50%), on their students' test scores.

I have some feelings about this. I'll bet my left earlobe that you do too!

And so do the teachers in Florida!

As I've said before, I dig reading people's comments and that includes all of them in the online papers I read. I actually get a little too caught  up in their comments and wind up spending a lot of my time commenting on their comments.

I gotta learn to shut up...

Anyhoo, I've been poking around in the Florida papers just to eavesdrop on the comments teachers and others have been writing online. (and put my two cents in on a few...)

One side thinks that merit pay and the elimination of tenure will be just the motivator teachers needed to really get those test scores raised.

The other side thinks that merit pay and the elimination of tenure will not motivate teachers but will instead hurt teaching and students because teachers will to teach to the test rather than foster a love of learning and creativity.

A third side thinks that teachers' pay might be unfairly hindered by the populations they service.

And THAT'S where the comments got really interesting!

(Btw, there are MANY more sides to this debate.)

There is a storm a-brewin' about how parent involvement and student motivation will impact a teacher's ability to earn a merit raise, since test scores will now account for 1/2 of the teacher's evaluation. (Only teachers rated "effective" or "highly effective" can be eligible for a merit raise.)

Now, we all have had those students who never do their homework, are always late, are frequently absent, and have parents that are impossible to raise on the phone or get into your room for a conference.

In Florida, could they keep you from getting a raise?

Some teachers say yes, and have, in the comments sections, suggested suing parents who do not live up to those "home/school contracts" many of us all sign at the beginning of the year.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, many districts have teachers and parents sign a contract that "commits" parents to certain promises like providing a quiet place for homework, making sure kids get to school every day and on time unless ill, etc. Teachers also promise as well to providing assistance if academic help is needed, treating children with respect, etc.

In my district, they get signed by everyone, filed in a drawer, and shredded at the end of the year. No one really takes them seriously.

Looks like some Florida teachers want to now!

Some teachers feel that if the actions, or perceived lack of actions, by parents or students inhibit a teacher's ability to earn a living, they suggest holding parents legally accountable to the contracts they signed at the start of the year.

Wow! What do you think about that one?


Rebecca said...

Frankly, I love the IDEA of holding parents accountable, at least in part, for their children's educations, but I'm not so sure how it would work in practice. It seems to me that any kind of punishments for the parents would also have repercussions for the kids, which is counterproductive and unfair to them.

Edna Lee said...

You make a great point, Rebecca! There may be some serious repercussions for the kids.

Thanks for sharing!

Alex T. Valencic said...

There is a private school in this area that requires parents to commit to 15 hours of volunteering in the classroom. If they don't do it, the school charges then several hundred dollars (I don't remember the exact figure, but I think it may be in the range of $1000). If the parents refuse to pay, then the child is simply expelled from the school.

I don't know if public schools could do something similar, but I think that, in relation to merit pay, teachers who receive no support from the students' families should be rated differently than the teachers who have a different parent coming in for a few hours every week, overseeing homework, etc. Because parent involvement is a HUGE factor in student success!

Jenna said...

I heard there was a glut of lawyers, so maybe this will help out with that.... however, I forsee more bribing of guidance counselors in an effort to move "does no homework student" from various classrooms.

In five, ten years, if legislation continues, Florida will start experiencing a 'shortage' of teachers... in much the same manner of various regions known for their lack of respect for teachers.

Anonymous said...

I would just say document, document, document. Over a long period of time.

Clearly, without emotion.

Then you can use the facts to marshal support for whatever you would like to accomplish (ie, getting people to understand that perhaps your pay raise should be recalculated positively)

Anonymous said...

I am a FL teacher, of Exceptional Ed students in an alternative high school, serving students who are two or more years behind. I teach 4 different core subjects ( algebra, geometry, biology and earth science) to the "worst" students in the entire school.( my principal confirmed for me they were the worst kids). Merit pay scares the #$% out of me. I want these kids to make better life choices first and get out of the hole they are in. Rick Scott is a moron. He wouldn't last 10 minutes in my classroom.

But its all worth it when they call me mama so and so. Or brag about passing a test. Or confide in me that they got thrown out of their house and can I help them. I wouldn't trade my teaching assignment for a million bucks.