It's a BLACK day for Florida schools as we wrestle with the news that is coming out of our state capital each day. Rumors are flying and "doom and gloom" is spreading among teachers who hear the message as a lack of confidence in their abilities. As a teacher it seems that all of the woes of the world have been heaped onto our shoulders. In the worst case scenario it looks like pay will be mostly dependent on test scores. How sad is that? Can you imagine teaching with a goal of making sure that your kids do well on a test instead of a goal of teaching children to love reading and writing? That really makes my heart hurt! While test prep seems to be creeping over every inch of our state, it's a cancer that our school has really resisted. However, if teachers decide that the only way they can improve their pay is to drill and kill, then that's exactly what they will feel like they have will do. Can you blame them?
A letter from our Superintendent's Office today says that "In order to pay for this new requirement (which refers to the $42 million in unfunded mandates), districts will have to turn current salary scales upside-down, severely reducing salaries for experienced teachers." The bill also prohibits any compensation be given for experience or for advanced degrees! What does that say to how our state values its experienced teachers?
Also on the chopping block is teacher tenure. Now I have never been a proponent on tenure. I have long believed that it has protected some really bad teachers over time, but I'm also not a proponent of teachers having one year contracts with principals having the ability to fire without cause. Can't you just see how that might be abused?
It seems everything coming down right now is stuff that makes your blood boil. While I am sure there are arguments on both sides that are sane and well meaning (at least I hope there are!), the interpretations that we are now hearing are unreasonable and absurd. It's hard to find the truth and the real intention in all of the hysterics. In the meantime, how many hours of quality instruction are lost as teachers worry about their job, their security, their family's security? Is this really what we all signed up for? When we decided that we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children, did we think we would have to justify our very life's work and sacrifice our families? What do we say to our students when they tell us they want to be just like us - they want to be teachers? What a sad time to be an educator...
Just for the record, on April 15, 2010 Florida's Govenor Charlie Crist vetoed the education reform bill!! Hooray!