Business Leaders to Crist: Back Teacher Performance Pay
Around the State
As whispers continued to grow that Gov. Charlie Crist plans to veto the teacher performance pay measure, business leaders met at the Capitol on Tuesday to lobby the governor to be bold, to strike a blow for education excellence and to sign the legislation into law.
“We know that there has been vocal opposition, but we want the governor to know teachers, educators, and business leaders support him and this good bill,” said Marshall Criser, the chair of the Florida Council of 100’s Pre-K-14 Education Committee.
The measure, which changes the structure of how teachers are paid, giving weight to improved student performance on standardized tests, passed the Senate last month and the House early Friday morning. It now sits on the governor’s desk. Crist has until Friday to sign or veto the measure.
The business leaders said that the bill offers changes that will make Florida’s schools more competitive because it will give teachers incentives to perform better in the classroom.
“Small-business owners, coaches, nurses and many others are compensated according to their work product,” said Dr. J. Robert McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute.
“We must change the salary schedule from input-driven to market-driven,” said Criser.
Jose Gonzalez, vice president of governmental affairs for the Associated Industries of Florida, said that the measure would pay dividends for Florida’s economic future.
“The success of Florida’s students equates to the success of Florida’s workforce,” he said. “The teacher tenure and performance pay bill will ensure accountability in the classroom.”
The leaders said that with most of the bill’s provisions starting in 2014, there is plenty of time to improve the measure.
“Whatever adjustments need to be made,” said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, “we can make them over time.”
Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, said the reforms could be implemented by grade, starting with the lower grades in elementary school and working toward more advanced grades. She said Florida has time to make these adjustments.
“The main provisions of the bill, except the tenure piece, kick in in 2014,” she said.
Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, agreed. “We have four years to work with teachers, unions and parents to get this bill perfect.”
When asked about the political implications of the bill and the opposition that has risen against it, the business leaders took exception and said they were concerned about education to keep Florida competitive in the national and global marketplaces.
“The simple truth is, it has everything to do with the future of the economy,” said Wilson. “It has nothing to do with unions.”
“We’re talking about the kids,” he said. “We’re talking about the old economy and the new economy.”
Chatter in the Capitol continues to grow that Crist will veto the measure. Crist’s two chief foes in the November election for the U.S. Senate seat talked about the performance pay bill today on the campaign trail.
Democratic frontrunner U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek urged the governor to veto the measure while former House Speaker Marco Rubio -- engaged with Crist in a bitter Republican primary -- said he supports the measure.
All the business leaders urged the governor to sign the bill. Criser referred to Crist supporting teacher performance pay measures when he ran for office in 2006.
“Our members will expect the governor to sign it,” said Wilson.
Contact Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (904) 521-3722.