Senate Bill Six - Coley Chooses to Toe Party Line Rather than Advocate for Colleagues in Education

To the Honorable Marti Coley;

What are you doing to combat the House Companion legislation to Senate Bill Six?  Will you take a stand in favor of teachers, students, and education in your district and the entire state of Florida?

Please consider sponsoring an alternate bill that will offer a reasonable plan for ensuring teacher accountability and student success.  Educators like myself stand ready and willing to help write this legislation — just ask!

Yours Truly,
Rachel Sutz Pienta, PhD

Dear Dr. Pienta,

Thank you for your recent email regarding Senate Bill 6.  I appreciate you taking the time to contact me and share your views on this important issue of mutual concern.

Earlier this week the State House introduced our own version of education reform legislation that has significant differences from the original version of Senate Bill 6.  As your State  Representative, one of my top priorities has been ensuring that all students have access to a high-quality education that will enable them to succeed alongside the best and brightes - not just in the United States, but also around the world.

{sidebar id=1}The number one factor that we can control in education is the quality of the teachers in our classrooms.  Without quality teachers, we cannot hope to provide Florida’s students with the quality education they deserve.  The vitality of Florida’s economy demands a highly educated workforce and excellent teachers are one of the most important factors contributing to the success of our students.

In order to provide this first rate learning experience for our children, we must have policies that recruit, retain and reward the highest quality teachers.  Our proposal provides school districts with the flexibility to do just that.  With the proposed measures in place, school districts will have the opportunity to reward their quality teachers based on student learning gains, which is the factor that matters most, rather than on seniority or degrees held.

Our common-sense approach maintains teacher salaries at present levels, but also allows school districts to recognize and reward excellence in teaching by establishing a performance based appraisal system for increases in compensation.

As you know, current educator pay schedules are based on seniority and additional degrees, not on classroom performance and student achievement.  Under the current system, there is no financial recognition for teachers who meaningfully excel within their chosen profession.  There is also no established incentive for those who undertake the greatest challenges in providing quality education in the lower performing schools.

By financially rewarding educators for their expertise and excellence, we will be better positioned to attract and retain the best and brightest to the teaching profession here in Florida.  Additionally, by providing incentives for teaching in high priority schools and critical shortage areas, we will be able to continue decreasing the gap between the highest performing schools and the lowest.

We are very proud of the remarkable learning gains that our students and schools have made through recent education reforms and we recognize the important role that teachers have played in Florida’s success.  But we still have much work to do and in order to improve we must continue to challenge the status quo. Our proposal would allow school districts to
appropriately reward the excellent teachers who continue to provide a top notch education and make a difference in the lives of their students.  I believe that this is a practical approach that allows for greater accountability within our schools, while recognizing and rewarding excellent teachers.

Please know that I share your commitment to education and I welcome your comments on our proposal. If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Marti Coley

So Marti Coley, a longtime educator, does not think an advanced degree is worth additional compensation?  Marti Coley thinks teachers should be evaluated primarily on test scores?  Teachers in Marti Coley’s House district take note — this legislator represents party interests, not yours!

Rachel Sutz Pienta, PhD

This letter originally published on March 26, 2010.

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