Teaching in Florida means achieving more with a drastically shrinking pool of resources. The 2011 Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott tied the future of nearly 200,000 professional educators to high-stakes standardized test scores, dramatically diminished their professional influence over classroom curriculum and cut their pay by 3% calling it a “contribution” to the Florida Retirement System. Teachers depend on annual school supply drives, increasing lab fees and parent organizations to raise funds for curriculum materials to smooth out the school year. Despite mounting pressures, Florida’s teachers remain dedicated to teaching in a system that is clearly feeling the pain of nearly $4 Billion dollars in funding cuts since 2009.
Florida Teacher Facts
- Florida has more than 323,780 full-time public school employees
- 189,429 full-time instructional staff
- Florida’s public school system one of the largest employers in the state.
- District and school administrators make up less than 3.5% of all public school employees
- In 2009-2010, the average Florida teacher salary for all degree levels was approximately: $46,696.
- Represents a decrease of $242 from 2008-2009
- Florida ranks 33rd among the 50 states in teacher pay or $5,700 below the national average
Impacting Teachers with Legislation
SB 736 (Return of the concepts that drove SB6)
As the first bill signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, SB736 “Teacher Merit Pay” was renamed the “Student Success Act” and is the largest unfunded, unproven education “reform” in Florida history. Legislators publicly and dishonestly claimed that the cost of SB736 was covered by Race to the Top funds and teachers must give up due process in order for Florida to receive this Federal money.
Unfunded Cost of SB736:
- Set-up Cost: $2 B
- On-going Costs: $1.8 B per year
High-stakes Test for Every Course:
- Mandates that districts cover the cost of creating high-stakes end of course exams for every course
- Drains limited resources away from classrooms costing students learning opportunities and courses such as art and music
- Districts cannot “opt out” if cost becomes prohibitive
- More testing days means fewer days of learning and teaching
- Ramped-up High-stakes test environment means dramatic rise in stress for children.
- High-stakes testing for every course means a narrowing of curriculum and requires teaching to the test
- Students lose chance to learn about innovation, ethics, collaboration and creativity.
Loss of Local Control
- Removes all flexibility/local control from districts and makes the Florida Department of Education the sole decision-making authority over teacher evaluations, pay schedules and working conditions
Direct Teacher Impact
- Ties 50% of a teachers evaluation to student test scores
- Instead of rewarding good teachers, the net result of SB736 is to squeeze the current pay schedule until all teachers have given up their job protections
- Teachers bear sole responsibility for improving student achievement
- Job security is lost
- District evaluation systems must rate all teachers as “highly effective,” “effective,” “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” as of July 1, 2011.
- Teachers hired after July 1, 2011 or veterans who move to a new school district will be
- put on one-year contracts for life, eliminating eligibility for job security and due process.
- Two Salary Schedules: A ‘grandfathered’ salary schedule for current employees and a performance salary schedule for all new employees hired after July 1, 2014.
- New performance salary schedule MUST be greater than the highest annual salary adjustment available on the grandfathered salary schedule.
- The only route to improving pay on the “performance salary schedule” is through new revenue from the Florida Legislature. The net effect is to freeze salary increases for the majority of teachers on the “grandfathered” schedule.
- Teachers who remain on professional service contracts may irrevocably opt-in to the performance salary schedule if they relinquish their existing contract and move to annual contracts.
- Teachers can be “non-renewed” for any reason, even if their student achievement is high
- and their teacher appraisal system rating is highly effective or effective.
- The law contains no language to ensure highly effective and effective teachers have access to due process and “just-cause” action prior to dismissal.
Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers, Co-authored by Scholars Convened by The Economic Policy Institute, Eva L. Baker, Linda Darling-Hammond, Edward Haertel, Helen F. Ladd, Robert Linn, Diane Ravitch, Richard Rothstein, Richard Shavelson and Lorrie A. Shepard, August 29, 2010
Ravitch: The Long, Failed History of Merit Pay and How the Ed Department Ignores It,Washington Post, The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss, September 29, 2010
Teacher Performance Pay Alone Does Not Raise Student Test Scores – New Vanderbilt Study Finds, Vanderbilt-Peabody News, Melanie Moran, September 21, 2010
Teacher Pay For Performance – Experimental Evidence from the Project on Incentives in Teaching, Vanderbilt University, September 2010
Florida Teacher Tenure Bills Would Bring Rapid Change, Tom Marshall, Tampa Bay Times, March 9, 2011
Rick Scott Signs Teacher Merit Pay Bill; Critic Calls it “Wrecking Ball” – Governor Says He Wants More Charter Schools In Florida, Topher Sanders, Time Union, March 24, 2011,