Not that anyone really felt that Scott’s political ploy had a chance, it was going to be interesting to see the end game of it’s dispatch. Senate president Don Gaetz took care of that yesterday. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Senate President Don Gaetz served notice on Gov. Rick Scott Friday that his chamber is not looking favorably on Scott’s proposal to give every public-school teacher a $2,500 raise. Though the governor has said the raise is one of his two top priorities – the other being elimination of the sales tax on equipment bought by manufacturers – Gaetz made clear he wants to dole out the pay increases on the basis of merit.
“My preference would be that there’d be some recognition and reward for teachers who come early, stay late, take on tough challenges and get learning gains as opposed to treating the best teacher in Florida the same as you would treat the worst teacher in Florida,” Gaetz said to a gaggle of reporters after he spoke to the Capital Tiger Bay Club.
That takes care of that. But within Gaetz’ justification for his denial of pay raises for Florida’s teachers – we’re in the bottom 10 percent – is a non-starter that Gaetz is fully aware is a non-starter. His “recognition and reward” is code for merit pay which requires a fair, reliable and predictable system. Gaetz’ warning in January that Florida’s current accountability system was in danger of “imploding,” serves as a clear admission that no such merit pay system is even close to being ready.
And the currently unfunded merit pay system dictated by SB736 is supposed to begin next year. Enter Gaetz with the leadership role that Jeb Bush graced upon him last month. But Gaetz inner pragmatist is in constant conflict with his misguided loathing for teachers. It comes out in pronouncements like this one found in Gina Jordan’s StateImpact story:
“If you think you’d rather work in a charter school so that you’re not necessarily under the thumb of the district or of a union, I think you ought to have a chance to apply to a charter school and get selected,” Gaetz said.
He says teachers who feel more comfortable in a traditional school environment should be able to work there, too.
“But you’re not going to get paid the same, you’re not going to get treated the same, you’re not going to get evaluated the same,” Gaetz said.
I’ve never met a teacher who feels that they are “under the thumb of the district or of a union.” This straw man argument demonstrates that Gaetz doesn’t understand what motivates teachers to become teachers and stay teaching. As a superintendent, he constantly referred to parents as “our customers” as if teachers were some sort of sales force. Such a disconnect doesn’t make for good policy-making or leadership of which Floridians are depending on Gaetz to provide.