Florida and Washington anti-education efforts

I ran across an article on the Web page for the National Education Association about anti-education reform education: “Crist Vetoes SB 6, Takes Bold Stand for Florida Schools.” The Florida Senate had introduced a bill that was so bad that the Republican governor voted against it. In a state that has had trouble with teacher shortages, it would have lowered pay and eliminated job security for teachers.

What struck me is that one of the provisions in this bill were very similar to the SERVE proposal that the Seattle superintendent tried to introduce at the last minute into the teacher contract. The SERVE proposal would have based half of the teachers’ evaluations on the results of a student standardized tests – although research has shown this to be ineffective. Likewise, Florida SB6 would have “required that all teachers be retained, certified and compensated based on student test scores on standardized tests.” The final labor contract in Seattle ended up with some elements of the SERVE proposal, but much weaker.

Another provision bears similarity to a Senate bill that was passed here in Washington, SB 6696. Florida SB6 would have extended the probationary period for teachers to five years. Likewise Washington SB 6696 extended the probationary period from two to three years. Again, it’s much weaker, but it’s the same general concept.

What accounts for these similarities? Basically, the rich and powerful who are pushing for nationwide “education reform” have about the same goals. So anti-education organizations are using the same tactics across all our states and cities.

What’s the bad news? Anti-education efforts are far from over in Seattle. What’s going to happen in the next legislative session? Will we see bills like S B6?

And what’s the good news? Grassroots efforts can stop them. In the case of Florida, tens of thousands of people wrote and called the governor in opposition to the bill. And in the case of Seattle, even though the SERVE proposal was introduced at the last minute, teachers got the word out, and people protested.

If Florida did it, so can we.

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