WTVY  | Dothan, AL  | Politics, News

Florida Teacher Merit Pay Law Under Fire

Five Florida teachers had to take Wednesday off, but they say it's for a good reason.

Each one of them is a plaintiff in a lawsuit they filed Wednesday in Tallahassee, a town where just five months ago the republican majority made 'merit pay' the law of the land.

Not only will teacher pay be tied to student test scores... If those scores aren't high enough, people like Pinellas County Elementary school teacher Carolyn Lofton can be fired, with no recourse.

"What we do want is due process, so that before termination is done, you do have a voice and you can work toward maybe keeping that person employed if there's a way to resolve the issue," Lofton said.

Under the law, there's no negotiating over how teachers are hired, fired and promoted. And for that reason, Lofton and her union say the law's in violation of their constitutional right to collectively bargain.

Fundamentally at issue is just how much authority the state has to set parameters for public education. Lawmakers control the lion's share of education funding, money going directly to teacher pay. That's why they also have a say in how it's spent.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce backed the legislation from day one and they're optimistic the principle behind it will win out.

"It is unfortunate that the labor union that claims to represent teachers is going to fight what could be the most meaningful education reform effort our country and Florida has ever seen," said Edie Ousley.

...An effort that may ultimately may live or die at the hands of the Florida Supreme Court.

The merit pay law doesn't take full effect until 2014, but teachers hired for the current school year have to abide by its ban on tenure.


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