What will teacher tenure in Florida look like now?

Gov. Crist back in favor with teachers

Gov. Charlie Crist’s announcement on Thursday that he would veto a bill linking teacher pay to student test scores left some hurt feelings and some new questions.  There may also be lessons for any states considering similar legislation.

“I say we must start over,” the Republican governor said, according to several news accounts. “This bill has negatively affected the morale of our parents, teachers and students.”

It is too early to say what starting over will look like in Florida, where the bill would have ended traditional tenure for teachers hired after July 1 and tied teacher salaries directly to student performance on tests.

Reaction was instant and in many ways predictable; teachers’ unions praised Crist, while Republican lawmakers expressed disappointment.

But the real questions begin now. Crist expressed concern that the bill didn’t address special education students and teachers, and said its execution had been flawed. He did say he wanted to address the issue of merit pay again.

One lesson he learned: Teachers and their unions can be powerful opponents.  According to a story in the Tampa Tribune:

“Teachers, students and other opponents flooded the governor’s office with tens of thousands of messages lambasting the bill for overemphasizing testing, robbing teachers of job security and ceding local districts’ control over schools to the state.”

— Liz Willen