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Business groups pan Crist school bill veto

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  • | 3:41 p.m. April 22, 2010
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Republican leaders in the Legislature aren't the only unhappy campers following Gov. Charlie Crist's recent veto of Senate Bill 6, the teacher merit pay bill. There seems to be a growing group of the disenchanted.

Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, whose district includes part of Hillsborough County, is one of the latest defectors from the Crist camp, saying he will now support Crist's U.S. Senate opponent, Marco Rubio. McKeel joins Speaker-designate Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, who, among others, also no longer supports Crist.

The law would have partially tied salary increases to student performance, basing pay raises on students' results on standardized exams. The bill would have eliminated virtually automatic tenure for new teachers and provided for differentiated pay based on teaching assignments to high-priority locations, such as chronically low-performing schools, and for assignments in critical teacher shortage areas.

Here's some of what Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce had to say in posting on its Web sites after the April 15 veto:

Associated Industries: “Governor Crist's decision to veto SB 6 is not only a disappointment to Associated Industries of Florida and the businesses we represent, but also demonstrates the Governor is not a champion of true reform, choosing instead to preserve the status quo despite a growing national trend toward more accountability. ... Businesses across the state will continue to struggle to find the educated, skilled workforce they need to compete. The loss to parents and students is the greatest as one superb teacher after another leaves what truly is the world's noblest profession.”

Florida Chamber of Commerce: “It's unfortunate that misinformation and politics got in the way of policy that could transform the way we educate our students in Florida. We understand the fight to transition our economy takes leadership, courage, long-term thinking and a commitment to abandon the status quo and this decision solidifies our resolve to push forward.”

Steve Halverson, Florida Chamber board chairman and president of The Haskell Company, says, “... If Florida is to become more competitive in the global marketplace, we must prepare for the next economy by focusing on creating a world-class talent supply chain and, that starts in the classroom by further supporting our public school teachers.”

The Florida Chamber and the Tampa-based Florida Council of 100 produced the “Closing the Talent Gap” report in January recommending many of the major provisions in SB 6, including those addressing merit pay and teacher tenure.

Florida TaxWatch, the non-partisan research group, also weighed in with its April 9 “Legislative Update” after SB 6 was approved by the Legislature and sent to the governor: “If Florida's vision includes having an outstanding teacher in every classroom, we must find ways to encourage this aspiration — including merit pay.”


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