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State Teachers' Union Reacts to New Proposed "Merit Pay" Bill

February 3, 2011 | WMFE - Florida's teachers' union is cautiously optimistic after this week's unveiling of a new teacher merit pay bill. Teachers and union staff spent Wednesday working through some sticking points with lawmakers in Tallahassee but they're glad to be involved in the discussions.

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Jacksonville State Senator Steve Wise on Monday proposed a bill tying teacher pay raises to student test scores. Governor Charlie Crist vetoed a similar bill last year, known as Senate Bill 6, after teachers flooded Tallahassee with letters, calls and protests.

Mark Pudlow is with the state teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association.  He says teachers were almost completely shut out of SB6, and that’s the biggest change with the new bill.

“It’s significantly different from SB 6 because Senator Wise did listen to teachers and the Florida Education Association, and did work on trying to include some of the problems we had with SB 6,” notes Pudlow.

For instance, the new bill acknowledges the possibility that test scores can be affected by things teachers can’t control, like a student’s attendance, disciplinary record, disability or English language skill.

Pudlow says teachers may still want more changes in the bill, but at least this time they’re involved in the process. “That’s probably the encouraging first step that we’re seeing here is that lawmakers are listening – some lawmakers are – and maybe we can get to the point where we can achieve some of the ends of measuring teachers in a fair way and coming up with ways to help student achievement.”


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