FEA Files Complaint Against State Board of Education on SB 736

From Jeff Solochek in Gradebook:

The Florida Education Association is contending that the state Board of Education hasn’t created appropriate rules to do the lawmakers’ will.

“We believe they’ve written it in such a way that no one really can figure out how to comply,” Tony Demma, the FEA’s lawyer, told the Gradebook.

The State Board rule, adopted in March, doesn’t define such key criteria as “primary factor” for setting merit pay, Demma said. It also includes items that were not part of the law imposing the evaluations, he said, and it places a great deal of discretion in the hands of bureaucrats when it comes to deciding whether teachers and districts are complying.

To seek relief, the FEA has filed a complaint with the state Division of Administrative Hearings, which can determine whether the rules have been adopted properly. There’s a hearing scheduled for May 30-31.

Demma explained that the union could have taken the issue to court, as it has with last year’s pension law.

“That would take time, though,” he said. “This is all happening now.”

He noted that districts are currently trying to put new evaluations in place, and many are struggling because of a lack of appropriate and clear guidance from the state. A DOAH hearing officer can act more quickly than the courts.

If either side doesn’t like the results, it could still take the issue before a judge. The State Board already pulled its rule on value-added models for evaluations after the FEA filed a similar complaint. Keep your eyes on this one to see where it lands.

SB 736 was driven through by  legislators without the benefit of skepticism. Unfortunately for Floridians, the SB736 train left the station last year and is up to full speed. Districts are still moving forward with evaluations based on value-added models. Like Michelle Rhee’s DC IMPACT system, half of a teacher’s evaluation comes from classroom observations and the other half comes from standardized test data. Also like Rhee’s system, there are two types of teachers in the same building: One which will be judged on end-of-course exams, the other will be judged on school grades.

And its test season now. School calendars are completely blocked out with one test or another. IT and web design teachers have lost their classrooms for the rest of the school year to accommodate online tests. Small wonder a nation-wide grassroots effort is underway to opt-out of standardized tests. These brave parents have realized that the brand of education reform driven by Rhee and Jeb Bush is grounded in the idea that tests are the solution.



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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3 Responses to FEA Files Complaint Against State Board of Education on SB 736

  1. Sandra says:

    SB736 is an example of the Florida legislative preference for “pass it now, fix it later” without any cost analysis methodology when crafting and passing bills. In the end, taxpayers will feel the bite.

    • Bob Sikes says:

      Sandra: Aren’t these folks from the party who made political hay – and justifiably so – when Nancy Pelosi said we need to pass Obamacare so we can find out what’s in it?

  2. Reblogged this on DoubleyooTeeEff and commented:
    Maybe if the education system in Florida was a bit better, our kids wouldn’t grow up to be ass-backward politicians who do things like pass stupid education legislation.

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