Bill separating teacher evaluations from collective bargaining passes House
Image via Lance Rothstein.

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'Here we go again, another attack on public education and our educators.'

A bill that would allow school districts to keep teacher evaluations out of collective bargaining talks with teachers passed the House Monday.

HB 1203, sponsored by Republican Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, passed the House 76-37 along party lines. The bill specifies that instructional evaluation procedures are not subject to mandatory collective bargaining, leaving it up to school districts to decide whether terms about the evaluation process could be used during collective bargaining.

The legislation comes as Florida is facing a statewide teacher shortage that is expected to get worse. The Florida Board of Education reported recently there are currently about 4,500 teacher vacancies, with that number expected to double by the end of the academic year.

The Florida Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, publicly opposed HB 1203, claiming it will push more teachers out of schools by furthering regulations on teacher pay and collective bargaining.

During debate on the bill, Democrats decried the limit to collective bargaining as unconstitutional and something that will push teachers away from Florida.

Rep. Felicia Robinson, who works as an educator, said the bill was an attack on teachers.

“Here we go again, another attack on public education and our educators,” Robinson said. “This bill is another attempt this Session to make it less possible to be employed or have a career in public education.”

Rep. Michael Grieco took issue with an amendment to the bill that tripled its size and added the controversial change right before its third committee stop. He also said he thought another part of the bill, which limits how much teachers with long-term experience can get in evaluation bonuses, will push teachers out of the field.

“You all are cutting experienced teachers’ salaries by a third,” Grieco said.

Fetterhoff defended her bill, arguing that allowing districts to take bargaining off the table will ensure the evaluation process is not being compromised.

“They should not have the ability to hold up the collective bargaining process because they do not want to be evaluated according to the way the state and the Superintendent (have) determined it should be,” Fetterhoff said. “True collective bargaining should not be something that brings evaluations to a standstill.”

The legislation also makes several changes not brought up in criticism of the bill. One of the changes establishes a first-degree misdemeanor penalty for school employees who fail to report an incident of an authority figure engaging in or soliciting sexual, romantic, or lewd conduct with a student. Another portion strengthens the teacher background screening process.

The legislation now needs the Senate’s stamp of approval before going to Gov. Ron DeSantis desk.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood

One comment

  • TJC

    March 7, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    A few decades ago, politicians like Jeb Bush and others with strong ties to business started the quest to turn public education into corporate profit. The model is simple: who pays for military hardware and member salaries? Taxpayers. Does the military make its own hardware? No, Boeing, Lockheed, Colt, etc. make the hardware — for profit, not patriotism. But what’s wrong with that, all agree, as long as the military gets the hardware they need. Now, who used to make a profit off of public education? Nobody (salaries are not profit). So, let’s do this: create private schools that are paid for by taxpayers, a.k.a. charter schools, and allow the “Management” company that “manages” the charter schools to collect a profit (above and behond all stakeholders’ salaries). Voila! Now, how to increase the profits: simple, create a greater demand for charter schools by taking the public school systems apart piece by piece, with acts of legislation (the FCAT testing and school grades debacle, draconian teacher evaluation processes designed by politicians with no input from educators) and attacks on the profession of public school teachers and administrators. Create the illusion that a better way to go — a better deal for the students — is to go charter. Not to help public schools, not make them more competitive — in fact the charter schools are made exempt from FCAT, onerous teacher evaluation processes, etc. to make the playing field tilted in their favor.
    HB1203 is not a war, it is a single battle of many, over many years so far and with many years to go. What about the governor’s efforts to increase teacher pay and bonuses, you say? Well, you can’t let the public school system collapse too fast, because you can’t set up charter schools too fast — you have to make sure it’s you and your friends who make the profit, not just anybody. Same way they slow-walk the legal marijuana business, keeping minorities and the unconnected out of the profits.
    I understand that the teachers and students of our many charter schools are doing a fine job and have no question they will continue to do so. I just don’t understand why others — their “managers” — are allowed to make a profit out of taxpayers’ money. After all, these “managers” do not manufacture the hardware needed for education the way Lockheed manufactures the fighter jets needed for the miitary. Instead, these “managers” claim they provide the business savvy needed to create a better classroom environment, a very intangible and elusive contribution to measure, unlike the profits they make, which can be counted precisely as they add up. Savvy, indeed.

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