"I veto SB6 because this bill is contrary to my firmly held principle to act in the best interests in the people of Florida," said the governor, speaking to a packed room of reporters. The bill, Crist said, would "placed teachers in jeopardy of losing their jobs and their teaching certifications" for student learning gains that aren't clearly defined and are often beyond their control.
The bill would have based teachers pay raise beginning in 2014 primarily on student "learning gains," which would have been determined by standaridized tests such as the FCAT. In addition, teachers hired after July wouldn't have had tenure -- the system that gives teachers a virtual lifetime job guarantee. New teachers would have worked on one-year contracts that would have been renewed only if their students showed learning gains two out of every three years.
Reporters crammed wall-to-wall into the governor's conference room in the state Capitol as the governor announced his veto. In his four-year term, this is the first time Crist has held a news conference to announce a veto. But as the governor has noted, SB6 generated more interest than any legislation in his time in politics -- even surpassing the public outcry over the Teri Schiavo life-support battle.
Even as Crist heard from teachers who opposed the bill, he also got pressure from Republicans and business leaders who supported it. Former Gov. Jeb Bush left him a voicemail message urging the governor to sign it. Crist's own former chief of staff, U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, urged his old boss to support the merit-pay plan, too.
The governor, who is running for U.S. Senate, also took his fellow Republicans who run the state Legislature to task for "rushing through" the teacher merit pay bill, which he said reminded him of the health care bill in Washington, D.C. and the Democratic Congress "cramming something down their throats."
All my FL teacher friends & family are cheering this, LOL... figured it was relevant because a lot of you, in and out of FL, had expressed concern about this.
First post ever, be gentle...