Teachers React to Merit Pay Law with Frustration | Politics

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Teachers React to Merit Pay Law with Frustration
Politics, Schools
Teachers React to Merit Pay Law with Frustration

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Two days a week, kindergarten teacher Liz Crane is in the classroom, and the rest of the week she's in the Clay County Education Association office as president of the teachers union.

"I'm concerned with this bill, you will have high turnover," said Crane.

Crane, reacting to the passage of Florida Senate Bill 736 which was passed Wednesday, said that while Clay does not have a merit pay plan, all teachers now must pass a performance evaluation process.

"Are we assessing them? Are we doing all those things? Yes, we are. Do we have something in place to say the child gains so many points on the FCAT or the FAIR test, you're going to get an increase? No," she said.

The Duval County school district has its tests in place, but counties like Clay do not.

Starting July 1, 2014, because of SB736 school districts will have two pay scales, a grandfathered schedule for current employees and the new performance salary plan. Crane said under the new plan, teachers will lose their due process.

"They'll lose their due process or professional contracts and they will be considered what's called an annual contract teacher," she said.

Crane said a bigger concern for her profession is the direction of public education which has teachers frustrated.

"What's very frustrating is when they turn on the news, open the paper ... there's another attack on teachers," said Crane.

That's how the passage of the new law is being perceived, she said.

"There has to be accountability; we're not saying there shouldn't be any. As a profession it has to be fair and without judgment," she added.

How the new merit pay plan will be implemented must be hammered out between the school board and collective bargaining. But for now it means the teachers will have to do more.

"Kindergarten has changed so much. we used to do just letter of the week and counting. Now we are reading and writing, and they are five," she said.

The type of standardized tests that will be used to measure the students' successes has not been determined.

Crane said the bill did not appropiate funds to buy nor develop those tests for the counties that don't have them.












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