HB 373 State continues to take away local control
Worsens teacher shortage
Recently the Chronicle Editorial Board referred to our past state legislature as “hypocrites”, and they did with good reason. They shared, “…Florida Legislature is constantly complaining that the federal government — was always trying to tell them what to do.” The Editorial Board then went on to say, “the same members of the Florida Legislature turn around and do exactly what they accuse the federal government of doing. State government is constantly trying to tell local government how to do their business.” (Read the editorial: http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/tallahassee-hypocrites-strike-again)
This legislative session one of the bills that continues to remove local control and interferes with the retaining of and attracting of competent teachers is HB 373 (companion bill SB 856), the bill if passed would, “Prohibits district school board from awarding annual contract for instructional personnel under certain circumstances; prohibits district school board from altering or limiting its authority to award or not award annual contract; provides applicability.”
Over the last decade the state legislature in Florida and state legislatures around the country have passed law after law that has caused fewer and fewer individuals to be interested in becoming teachers and have also caused those that are teachers to leave the profession. In fact, the Orlando Sentinel reported this week, “40 percent of teachers leaving Florida’s public schools [will leave the profession] within five years after starting”.
In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed and was signed into law SB 736 that among many things, tied teachers’ salaries to student’s grades and test scores. It also required all school districts to adopt new salary schedules with new state requirements.
SB 736, also took away the freedom that local districts and bargaining units had to locally negotiate equitable agreements. Under the SB 736 laws all new teachers hired after July 1, 2012 would no longer have “continuing contract”. Meaning if you were doing a good job there was no guarantee that you couldn’t be fired (or non-renewed) at the end of every school year without cause. For those that felt called to the noble profession of teaching continuing contract was an important benefit for the limited salary an individual could earn compared to that of working outside of the teaching profession.
SB 736, took away continuing contract way from newly hired teachers. It is interesting to know that SB 736 only took away continuing contract for teachers, in fact no other law in Florida for any other professions has takes away continuing contract. Public school teachers were and continue to be targeted in this way.
Following the period after SB 736 passed into law districts and bargaining units in order to retain good teachers understood that some type of continuing contract offering was essential, and so districts added language to contracts to help give limited assurances to teachers that if they had met their annual expectations and had received at least an effective rating on their annual evaluation that they would be retained for the coming school year. The fear was that some in the legislature that had targeted the teaching profession when they passed SB 736 would try and pass new laws to stop districts from doing this. Enter 2017 and HB 373.
Florida’s teaching shortage is not likely to improve anytime soon. It will get worse before it will get better. Bills like HB 373 will only serve to make matters worse and continue to have Tallahassee control more of our local government’s decisions.
I urge you to contact your legislators and ask them not to support HB 373 and SB 856, as these bills only makes the matters of our teacher shortage worse for our schools and students.