When it comes to public education, supporting our kids and those who teach them; John Thrasher, Jeff Atwater and I are worlds apart.
Their bill, SB 6, is a disturbing attempt to punish good teachers while pretending to stand for accountability -- a fraudulent and reckless act that will devastate our schools and this state.
Since Karen emailed you just a few days ago, thousands of Floridians have contacted their offices and told them: enough is enough!
But even though they received thousands of emails asking them to drop it within hours of their first hearing on the bill -- they are still trying to move forward.
Join me in contacting their offices and tell them that enough is enough! Go to the Florida Democratic Party website to contact Sen. John Thrasher and Sen. Jeff Atwater and tell them to drop this ridiculous power grab now.
We need your help not because of politics, but because this is just bad legislation that will devastate the schools across our state.
Here are just a few examples of what this bill does:
Removes Local Accountability. SB 6 says "political appointees in Tallahassee know best" and removes discretion from principals and locally elected school boards by setting arbitrary standards and policies that punish teachers and kids.
Forces Increases in Local Taxes. Local school districts that choose to allow principals to evaluate teachers will have state funding stripped - forcing a mandatory increase in local taxes to pay for massive reductions in funding for local public schools.
Punishes Good Teachers. The Atwater/Thrasher plan devalues real classroom experience, advanced training (like National Board Certification) and skill building by dedicated educators, making it illegal to evaluate teachers based on how long they have served as an effective teacher or even their experience as an educator.
Punishes Disadvantaged Children. Perhaps the cruelest element of their plan actually encourages teachers to give up on "difficult" or "challenging" children. Under the Atwater/Thrasher bill, teachers who teach "troubled kids" - those kids most likely to have the lowest test scores - are much more likely to face massive pay cuts or be forced out of teaching altogether. Therefore, many teachers will have no choice but to try to have the most challenging kids moved out of their classroom.
This is the kind of power grab and dangerous legislation that will devastate our schools in every community of this state.
Enough is enough! Let Jeff Atwater and John Thrasher know that we need to stop this ridiculous bill now.
As I campaign across Florida, I have been repeatedly asked, "How are you different than Jeff Atwater?" This bill is a perfect example.
When it comes to true accountability in our schools, I believe that local communities, our school boards, and our principals know best.
When it comes to experience and a life-long dedication to teaching, we should be doing everything we can to encourage good teachers to stay in the classroom and not simply slap teachers in the face in order to score some cheap political points.
When it comes to where we spend your tax dollars, I believe we should be making sound long term investments in our future by investing in our public schools, not legislating them into failure.
And, most importantly, when it comes to children who are disadvantaged, we should support every effort to keep these kids in a positive learning environment and not encourage teachers to push them out of classroom.
Join me in contacting Jeff Atwater and John Thrasher and let them know that we need Tallahassee to focus on real reforms to improve our state's public schools by empowering those on the front lines to do what is best for Florida's children.
Thank you for all your help in calling attention to this legislation, and thank you for joining Karen, me, and thousands of Floridians standing up for Florida's children.