March 24, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Florida Governor’s Signing of Controversial Education Legislation
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 736 into law today. The legislation sets up a pay system based on students’ results on standardized tests, relies heavily on those test scores for evaluating teachers, and eliminates continuing contracts and due process rights for all new teachers.
WASHINGTON—Today Florida Gov. Rick Scott took a wrecking ball to the dreams and aspirations of the state’s public school students by imposing a test- and sanction-driven education policy that rejects the proven educational strategies of the world’s highest-achieving nations.
Florida’s so-called Teacher Quality Act repudiates the successful approach used by the top-performing nations—Finland, Singapore and South Korea—which embraces collaboration, values professionalism, respects teachers and provides the support educators and kids need to succeed.
Scott and his allies have rammed through legislation that will undermine Florida’s students and their public schools. It silences teachers, who are closest to our kids in the classroom; imposes compensation and evaluation systems that have failed to advance learning when tried elsewhere; and shifts the estimated $2 billion cost of implementing an array of new standardized tests to financially strapped local school districts. Poll after poll shows that this type of agenda—an all-out assault on the middle class and on the economic security of workers—is opposed by a majority of voters.
Scott should have taken the lead from multiple school districts across Florida, where teachers and administrators work collaboratively on reforms to advance teacher quality and student learning. The new education law turns in the opposite direction and undermines the work being done with federal Race to the Top funds to develop innovative compensation and evaluation systems and new strategies to recruit, retain and reward great teachers.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.