By Jerry Waxman
As submitted to the Huffington Post
Opponents of Florida’s SB 6 were some of the happiest people you’d ever want to meet Thursday afternoon and they had good reason to be. Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill, citing among several reasons the Florida Senate’s failure to give the bill an adequate hearing from all sides and the rush to push it through without amendments. An overwhelming display of opposition from teachers, students, administrators, parents, politicians, civic groups, social networking groups and ordinary citizens didn’t hurt either. He really should be thanked publicly for vetoing bad legislation, but before all these people start popping their champagne corks and saying nice things about him they had better read the letter he sent to the Senate. In the last paragraph on page 2 he said that he agreed with the stated goals of the legislation, just not the process, so let’s not get any warm fuzzy feelings yet about Charlie. There’s a lot more legislation coming up that he should also be vetoing.
The groups on Facebook know this and are asking all members to keep up the effort and not to relax their guard. They are actually asking members to suggest new members to join so that they can show solidarity for future causes that they know are going to be arising. What they know is that Jeb Bush’s not-so-invisible hand has been stung severely, and Jeb (with his political cronies) is not going to take this lying down.
There are several other bills pending in the legislature, while not as notorious as SB6, still bear his imprint and really need to go down in flames as well:
SB4 – Increased testing requirements for HS students
SB2 – Amends (Repeals) Class size amendment to Constitution
SB2580 – Health Insurance bill mandating purchase of cheapest plan.
SB2022 – Require .25% salary contribution to FRS.
HB1543 – Cut Retirement
SB1902 – Companion to HB1319
HB1319 – Public Employee Retirement Reform Bill
HB5701 – Removes $150 monthly health subsidy & Reduces Retirement contribution by $1800/yr
SB2126 – Increase Private Corporate voucher contributions for tax cuts
SJR2550 – Amends Constitution to allow public funding of religious schools.
For now, at least, the biggest obstacle has been defeated. Reaction from the pro SB6 side has been predictable. Here’s Jeb’s response, and here’s the response from the typical Republican Supporters of SB 6. From the same article cam this satirical comment to their response:
From Senate President Jeff Atwater: “I am disappointed that today Governor Crist chose to reverse direction and…” not allow private schools to benefit, loss $ for Reps; not allow testing companies to benefit from the districts budgets, loss $ for Reps; limit social biased vouchers to steer billions in tax payers money to private education and the companies that publish their materials, loss $ for Reps.
From Newt Gingrich: “It is very disappointing that Governor Crist abandoned the children of Florida and sided with the teachers union …” he should have ignored the non-union teachers voice as the legislature did, the voices of concerned parents that cannot afford private education, the voices of students of education that were going to be left with hard to re-pay students loans. “… It is sad to see the public interest abandoned for a political calculation with a powerful union…”
From House Majority Leader Adam Hasner: “I’m disappointed that after sending his top policy staffer to the House Committee to testify in support of the proposal, Governor Crist would change his mind and now veto the bill.” The presence of a staffer is MUCH more valuable than the 109,000 voices the Governor heard.
From Barney Bishop, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida: “Governor Crist’s decision to veto SB 6 is not only a disappointment to Associated Industries of Florida and the businesses we represent,…” private schools, testing companies, companies that publish education material, telemarketers, and construction companies
From Rep. John Tobia, R-Satellite Beach, who pulled his support of Crist in the U.S. Senate race: “Governor Crist is playing political games with our children’s education,” We play with the children and the industries that will exploit them like telemarketers and construction companies that need cheap labor.
From Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO: “While Governor Crist’s decision to veto SB 6 is very disappointing, the Florida Chamber of Commerce will continue to fight for higher pay for good teachers…” that teach in favorable areas or in private schools since we can give up on the disable, the infirm, and the economically disadvantageous.
On the teacher side these arguments refute any claims that SB6 would benefit education:
“This legislation would require the development of scores of end-of-course exams, which would be used to determine if students made learning gains. These tests are not currently developed and how they would measure those learning gains have not been developed either.
It is clear that there are tremendous costs that are associated with the passage of this legislation. The analysis of the bill by those who developed this legislation says that the actual price tag is “indeterminate,” which means they don’t know what it will cost. Yet the Legislature has allocated no money for this purpose.
In fact, the legislation seeks to pay for these costs by holding back 5 percent of each district’s budget. Yes, the same budget that has been cut for the past few years and that each district is struggling with every year. That means there will be even less money available for salaries, programs and school operations. All of this, while districts seek to comply with this legislation and other costly mandates that are currently being considered by the Legislature.
The legislation states, without equivocation: “A district school board may not use length of service or degrees held as a factor in setting a salary schedule.” So experience and knowledge are no longer important in the classroom?
The salary schedule would not be subject to collective bargaining and the state will decide what categories of differentiated pay will be provided for.
Probationary contracts are issued for up to five years, after which a teacher could get an annual contract if they are rated effective or highly effective, which will be defined by the DOE, not the school district. The state will have a much greater hand in appraisals.
The bill would abolish the Dale Hickam Excellent Teacher program, which rewards teachers who have attained National Board Certification. “
Since yesterday’s veto the news spread nationally and was picked up by the Huffington Post and the New York Times plus many other news organizations. It’s no secret that several other states were waiting to see the outcome of this case. In Jeb Bush’s world Florida has become his laboratory test case to package to the rest of the country. One local poll in the Palm Beach Post show massive favorable reaction (84%) to the veto. Fund Education Now is a local Central Florida group founded by three concerned parents who have been taking the legislature to task for failing to properly fund the schools every year. Here’s a video of their latest statement.
Florida is just representative of what’s going on nationally. The Obama administration has made no gains with the selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. As a matter of fact Duncan is actually worse than his two predecessors, Margaret Spellings and Rod Paige because he knows their policies were a sham and he continues to inject steroids in them. Respected educators such as Diane Ravitch have repudiated these methods and one of America’s premier education authorities, Henry A. Giroux, writing in Truthout.org has weighed in on this. If you want to know what his credentials are, his website is www.henryagiroux.com. It’s also indicative of what’s going on if you look at what’s happening at Arizona State University, which is a leading research institution in this country. They have recently disestablished their unit for higher education showing tremendous disrespect for the profession. Dr. Karen Anijar-Appleton suggests everyone join Public Education Matters to keep abreast of news and happenings throughout the country.
U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio recently told reporters in Orlando that he supported SB 6. He was elected to the Florida House in 2000 and served as Speaker during the 2007-2008 terms. He is a full supporter of the Bush agenda and that is not really a surprise. He is also a product of a dumbed down society and educational system under the Reagan/Bush 1 years. He was 9 years old when Ronald Reagan took office so he has no concept of what life was like or how education worked prior to that point in time. It’s no wonder he can’t see past his narrow concepts. I feel sorry for him.