Governor Charlie Crist vetoes Senate Bill 6
When I first heard about Senate Bill 6, I thought it was a bill on income taxes and spending.
But then I heard the specifics, and angry thoughts rushed through me. I wondered how anyone with common sense could want to keep pushing down a profession that is constantly beaten down: teaching.
The bill sought to eliminate tenure for new and incoming teachers, as well as basing salary on student test scores such as the FCAT. In addition, unlike now when standardized tests focus solely on reading, math, writing, and science, other classes would have “end-of-year exiting exams” (imagine taking FCAT Art or FCAT History?). The bill itself would have based a teacher’s income on those tests, and according to Senator John Thrasher it would have been “effective and progressive” when it comes to “our children’s education”.
Teachers, parents, and students protested against the bill. They believed it would have killed a teacher’s creativity in the classroom. Students walked out of class, orchestrated sit-ins, and protested with teachers.
There was relatively low support for the bill. The main proponents of the bill said it would allow the system to “weed out the bad teachers”, however, tests aren’t a full-proof way to determine how good or bad a teacher is. The bill would have negated incentives for teachers to reach higher educational levels for themselves such as masters' degrees, special certifications, sponsoring school clubs, or even teaching overtime night classes.
But the main problem I had with Senate Bill 6 was that it made no effort to make the noble profession of teaching more appealing. As I read reactions on the web, I realized the bill would have destroyed a whole generation’s dream of teaching in Florida. The bill would have made it impossible to progress as a teacher because student success and teacher raises would depend strictly on test scores. This is no motivation for teachers to go out and inspire. Where have the days of field trips, experiments, and actual teaching gone?
The good news is that Florida Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill. But that is not the end of it. Senator John Thrasher said the bill will be revisited. I think Florida would be a better place if we didn’t make the teaching profession a political move.