Government

Senators Show Up for Michelle Rhee, Leave for Bill

Committee vote on performance pay bill delayed at least one day
By: Gray Rohrer | Posted: February 10, 2011 3:55 AM
Stephen Wise

Stephen Wise

While Michelle Rhee got most of the attention during her presentation Wednesday at the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee, it is the legislation discussed afterward that will have the most lasting impact on Florida’s education.

Most of the reporters and senators, some of whom are not even on the committee, left along with the controversial former chancellor of the Washington, D.C., School District, leaving just three senators to deal with legislation that will tie teacher pay to performance.

Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, who chairs the Education Committee, filed Senate Bill 736 last week, which would create teacher evaluations that would determine their salary and in some cases, whether they remain employed as a teacher.

The evaluations would be developed by the Department of Education, but would be based on a value-added method which would take into account the learning progress of the students in their classrooms over a three-year period.

At least 50 percent of the evaluation would be based on student progress. External factors beyond a teacher’s control, like student attendance, discipline, disability and proficiency in English are to be taken into account in the evaluations.

Although the exact formula for the evaluations hasn’t been determined, the outcomes are. The evaluations are to give teachers grades of “highly effective,” “effective,” “needs improvement” and “unsatisfactory.” New teachers can also be given a grade of “developing.”

Teachers rated as “highly effective” would receive a raise greater than they would normally receive under their district’s annual increase. An “effective” teacher in the same district would get a raise of between 50 and 75 percent of the “highly effective” teacher’s raise.

The bill would also eliminate tenure for teachers hired after July 1, 2011. Those hired after that date would be given one-year contracts. Districts would be barred from renewing the contract of a teacher who received two “unsatisfactory” evaluations in a three-year period or three “needs improvement” evaluations in a five-year period.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, tried to lengthen the time of the contract extended to teachers to three years, but his amendment to the bill was shot down by Wise and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, the only other sitting member of the committee present at the time.

“If you have a teacher that’s well into the career ... I would suggest to you that the teacher needs a level of comfort rather than a one-year contract,” Montford said, adding that the majority of teachers in Florida would be rated “highly effective” or “effective.”

“I would agree with you that the vast majority of teachers would receive favorable evaluations. I don’t believe we should stray from our focus of keeping and rewarding our best teachers. I believe in the language as it stands,” Benacquisto said.

Wise said that a committee vote on the overall bill scheduled for Wednesday would have to wait at least until Thursday, in order to give other legislators the opportunity to fully vet the bill.

 

 

Reach Gray Rohrer at grohrer@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.


Comments (6)

Sean
12:32AM FEB 13TH 2011
I believe that Florida needs to promote teachers and give them the best possible environment in which to teach. The ideas of Michelle Rhee that are supported by Stephen Wise have failed across the country. Florida needs new and positive ways to promote education and support teachers!
Sean
12:29AM FEB 13TH 2011
I believe that Florida needs to promote teachers and give them the best possible environment in which to teach. The ideas of Michelle Rhee that are supported by Stephen Wise have failed across the country. Florida needs new and positive ways to promote education and support teachers!
Concerned Citizen
12:28AM FEB 13TH 2011
I believe that Florida needs to promote teachers and give them the best possible environment in which to teach. The ideas of Michelle Rhee that are supported by Stephen Wise have failed across the country. Florida needs new and positive ways to promote education and support teachers!
Concerned Citizen
12:28AM FEB 13TH 2011
I believe that Florida needs to promote teachers and give them the best possible environment in which to teach. The ideas of Michelle Rhee that are supported by Stephen Wise have failed across the country. Florida needs new and positive ways to promote education and support teachers!
Arthur
12:21AM FEB 13TH 2011
Michelle Rhee is a fraud. She lied about her achievements as a teacher and she still expects people to listen to her pathetic ideas. Teachers are the second most important people in the lives of young people (behind parents). Michelle Rhee claims that she is the Messiah of education and the first thing we need to do is destroy teachers. Both Rhee and Stephen Wise are self-serving and desperate people. Stephen Wise should be removed from office at the next election.
Keith
12:54PM FEB 10TH 2011
Let's be honest here. I was at the Senate Committee meeting yesterday. There are 5 Senators on the PK-12 committee. Three were present for the whole testimony. The other two were excused, one for medical reasons, the other because he chairs another committee that was meeting at the same time. The others who were there and left don't serve on the committe and would not have been able to vote anyway.

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