Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Scott-O-Meter

Eliminate tenure for new teachers


“Why would it be that teachers are guaranteed their jobs for life? If you were guaranteed — you didn’t have to do anything, just showed up, and you didn’t have any obligation other than showing up every day — you think you would get better or worse? Right. This stuff is not hard. So we have a big opportunity.”

Updates

New teachers can only receive one-year contracts

New teachers in Florida will work on year-to-year contracts as part of a major education proposal passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on March 24, 2011.

SB 736, which passed the Senate 26-12 on March 10, 2011, and the House 80-39 less than a week later, eliminates what is commonly called "tenure" for new teachers. Currently, teachers in Florida are hired on one-year contracts for three years before being awarded "professional service contracts." Those contracts, proponents of the new law say, make it more difficult to remove poor, ineffective teachers.

The elimination of tenure fulfills a promise Scott made during the campaign.

"Why would it be that teachers are guaranteed their jobs for life?" Scott told the St. Petersburg Times. "If you were guaranteed — you didn"t have to do anything, just showed up, and you didn"t have any obligation other than showing up every day — you think you would get better or worse? Right. This stuff is not hard. So we have a big opportunity."

SB 736 says that teachers hired after July 1, 2011, would first be hired on a one-year probationary contract and that during that year, they could be fired without cause. Teachers, if they meet other requirements, would then be offered contracts one year at a time. You can read the bill language here.

During debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, proposed an amendment to offer three-year contracts for new hires instead of the one-year contracts proposed in the legislation. He framed his proposal as a way to give teachers job security and more time to appeal a negative evaluation. One Republican, Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, favored the change. One Democrat, Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando, said the amendment was unnecessary. The amendment failed.

That means one-year contracts for new teachers and an end to tenure. And for Scott, a Promise Kept.

Sources:

Miami Herald, "Teacher pay, tenure bill glides along in Senate," March 9, 2011

Miami Herald, "Florida House approves teacher tenure law," March 16, 2011

SB 736, accessed March 23, 2011
 

Teacher tenure bill resurfaces in Senate

A series of education reforms vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010 are making their way back to the Legislature in 2011 as part of changes promised by Gov. Rick Scott.

Among them is a proposal to eliminate tenure for K-12 teachers.

Currently, teachers in Florida are hired on one-year contracts for three years before being awarded "professional service contracts." Those contracts, which often are referred to as a form of tenure, give teacher special protections from firing. Because some teachers are protected from firing, schools that have been forced to reduce their work force as part of budget cuts have had to target non-tenured teachers -- regardless of who is considered the better instructor.

Scott argued during the campaign that the practice of tenure needed to be eliminated for new teachers.

"Why would it be that teachers are guaranteed their jobs for life?" Scott said. "If you were guaranteed -- you didn't have to do anything, just showed up, and you didn't have any obligation other than showing up every day -- you think you would get better or worse? Right. This stuff is not hard. So we have a big opportunity."

Supporters say tenure helps draw people into teaching -- and that without it, Florida's teacher recruitment efforts will suffer. And killing tenure also would not guarantee that districts make firing decisions based on quality or need, they say. For instance, some top-notch veterans might get the boot simply because they make too much money.

State Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, the chair of the Senate PreK-12 Education Committee, filed legislation on Jan. 31, 2011, that would, among other things, eliminate tenure. SB 736 says that teachers hired after July 1, 2011, would first be hired on a one-year probationary contract and that during that year, they could be fired without cause.

Teachers, if they meet other requirements, would then be offered contracts one year at a time. You can read the bill language here.

The tenure portion of the bill is likely to be less controversial than another measure in the legislation that would link teacher pay to student performance.

We'll be watching the legislation as it moves through committees and onto the floor of the House and Senate. For now, this promise rates In the Works.

Sources:

News Service of Florida, "Teacher tenure bill filed in Tallahassee, " Feb. 1, 2011

New York Times, "G.O.P. Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure," Jan. 31, 2011

Florida Times-Union, "Merit pay for Florida teachers back on the table," Feb. 1, 2011

St. Petersburg Times, "Tenure often determines if Florida teachers keep jobs," April 9, 2009

SB 736, accessed Feb. 2, 2011