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.