Teachers union: State's performance pay rules are invalid by Mitch E. Perry

09/18/06

The Florida Education Association is challenging state guidelines for developing local teacher performance pay plans.

Officials of the statewide teachers union say the Florida Department of Education has cut teachers out of the guideline-writing process for the new program dubbed Special Teachers are Rewarded, or STAR. The challenge is aimed at invalidating several interpretations of the plan that the department has made.

Union president Andy Ford says his group doesn't oppose the concept of performance pay, a form of merit pay that gives more money to those teachers deemed to be doing a better job than their peers. But it's premature, he says, until all Florida teachers can be paid a salary at or above the national average. (roll tape#1 o.q.�buy in, and stability�)

Ford acknowledges that the state has provided for ‘decent salaries’ for teachers in the past couple of years, but he says that’s in part based on the state’s budget being so strong.

Tony Demma is an attorney with The Florida Education Association. He says the problem is with the arbitrary way that the Department of Education will allow local districts give higher pay (roll tape#2 o.q.�school districts to follow�)…

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When asked what type of system the FEA would like their teachers to be evaluated fairly, says he wants a merit style of pay that specifies what make a teacher worthy of a salary or bonus (roll tape#3 o.q.�and it’s not based solely on the FCAT�)

The union filed its petition with the state Division of Administrative Hearings. An administrative law judge will consider the issue later this year.

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