A Teacher’s View of SB6

Senate Bill 6 is a bill that is aimed at judging teachers solely based upon their students’ test scores. It eliminates tenure for new teachers entering the system and penalizes teachers if their students do not perform well on tests without taking into account factors beyond the teacher’s control that include: a child’s home environment, test anxiety, barriers of language and students who read far below grade levels but were passed through the system as well as a myriad of other factors.

What if we applied Senate Bill 6 to legislators?

By Mike Matteo

Senate Bill 6 is a bill that is aimed at judging teachers based upon their students’ test scores.  It eliminates tenure for new teachers entering the system and penalizes teachers if their students do not perform well on tests without taking into account factors beyond the teacher’s control that include: a child’s home environment, test anxiety, barriers of language and students who read far below grade levels but were passed through the system as well as a myriad of other factors.  The goal of the bill is to improve education by “weeding out” bad teachers.

I wholeheartedly agree with getting rid of incompetent teachers, however, I think that the bill should not just apply to educators.  It should be extended to all government jobs, in particular local, state and federal legislators.  How many times have we heard President Obama state that he inherited the bad economy from the Bush Administration?  If Senate Bill 6 were applied to him, he’d be penalized because the economy is still floundering.  Why are teachers being singled out by this legislation?  Imagine if we could say to representatives at the local, state and federal levels, “You’re insane spending practices, inept policies, gross miscalculations and failure to implement sound economic policies has plunged a once prosperous economy into a deep recession and Americans are suffering on a daily basis.  You’re fired!”  Of course they would divert the blame elsewhere because that is simply politics as usual.  Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans blame Democrats and they all sit back and, at least in Congress, receive automatic pay raises that they voted for themselves. 

I have been a teacher and would definitely agree that some teachers should not be teaching.  However, there are many fine teachers who deserve a better fate than to make teaching a career and then, after putting in X number of quality years, get fired because their students perform poorly on standardized tests.  I once had a class of seniors where the average student was reading at a fourth grade reading level.  I worked very hard with those students but no matter what I did they struggled learning history because they came into my class with issues that I couldn’t combat by working with them for 5 hours a week.  I’ve taught students who were put in my class who spoke little to no English who would fail tests because they didn’t understand the language and the bureaucracy at the school just said, “Deal with it.”  I was a very hardworking teacher who loved what I did; however, the myopic nature of the same bureaucrats who implement policies without thinking about their consequences drove me out of the classroom. 

Students are the consumers of education and just as businesses try to meet the needs of their customers to earn a profit it is about time that the educational system takes into account what students need to be successful.

There is definitely a need to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and, thus, improve the educational system.  My suggestion would be to administer a pre-test to students the first day they show up for class.  The teacher spends the year teaching the material and at the end of the school year the students take the same test and the two tests are compared.  This, along with evaluations from administrators should be used to determine the effectiveness of teachers.  I don’t think that legislators would like it very much if their jobs/salaries were tied to factors that they felt were beyond their control so why are they attempting to impose this same ridiculous system on teachers?

Mike Matteo is a resident of Tampa, Florida where he was a public and private high school teacher who taught classes in economics, history, psychology and philosophy. Mike has written twenty-three full-length feature films, several stage plays and works with students to improve their SAT, ACT and FCAT scores. He has also written or co-authored three books, including one on education. E-mail him at: writer161@aol.com.

14 thoughts on “A Teacher’s View of SB6”

  1. seems the first sentence is incorrect….”solely”…implies the only measure for teachers “judging” is test scores….believe such is part of the process!

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  2. The idiots in the legislature passed the bill last night of course. Now we have to rely on Charlie Crist to veto it. What is this world coming to?

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  3. Anonymous – It isn’t what the world is coming to, it’s what the world is…run by the inept to assist the incompetent and enrich the ignorant.

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  4. Are you sure the creatures that run the show are inept? Maybe they have a different agenda than what you think.

    It might be to hard to accept that they look at me and you with distain and merely want us enslaved or gone. When we measure their actions and the actions of their useful idiots against that agenda they appear quite successful.

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  5. How about amending the bill? Teachers will be paid once yearly after their students PASS the mandated test(s). No pass, no pay. This will really weed out the incompetent educators quickly. This would be similar to working on straight commission.

    Good sales people can survive and thrive on straight commission – the bad/unskilled sales people quickly fall by the way side. It is about time that educators join the real world. Everybody knows that slow students that fail tests get referred for ADHD drugs and get taken out of the performance measurement pool, so what is the big deal?

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  6. Thanks for the comments on my article, I want to apologize for a glaring grammatical error. (rereading it this morning made me cringe) I wrote it quickly last night in between watching the debate over the bill and wanted to get it out before they voted. I found the debate to be extremely sad because when it came down to it, it wasn’t about education, it was about partisanship and that isn’t what will improve education in Florida.

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  7. It seems to me we are applying senate bill 6 to elected officials. It’s called the Tea Party Movement. In the private schools I’m familiar with, teacher don’t have tenure. Maybe that’s why they are better.

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  8. Great article Mike!
    I can not understand how some people could even imagine that a teacher is a “sales person” Ha! Teachers are here for our children and our future and not in it for the money. If everyone sold cars for a living we would have no future:(
    Thanks Mike…..it takes great educators and a good heart to write and understand this:)

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  9. When you sell a car, if the person cant afford it, they leave. It is NOT up to the salesman to give them a job that will pay a high enough salary to afford the car, nor to clear up their credit report so they can afford the car. The teacher opens his/her arms to all the “poor credit” and “lower salary” people who enter their door. The teacher, NOT the salesman, spend hours of their time, before and after school ( and therefore unpaid hours) trying to help the struggling students come somewhere near where they need to be to at least READ the test being given which will determine their future. The teacher DOES NOT have the ADHD students removed from the test scores, that would be disaggregated data and under No Child Left Behind, against the law. All the areas of exceptionalitites, including autistic, who are forced to take a test which does not resemble their ability level, but just the arbitrary grade level that legislators determine the child should perform at, take the same test on the same material, and their grades are given the same weight as say, a gifted child in a high performing AP/Honors class. PLEASE tell me how that measures anything resembling honest to goodness raw data??? All it does is waste taxpayers dollars on testing children whose IEP’s (a Federal document) indicate they cannot perform in a mainstream environment; so then why test them with a mainstream instrument? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Now, back to the teachers —how can we judge a teacher as good or inept when we are testing students using these measures? How can a special education teacher, say of the autistic, have his/her salary based on the test performance of their students, when the test does not assess the growth the student made during the half years instruction ( the test is given late Feb. or ealy March, leaving the remaining months of instruction never quantified). The test proves what is already known – that the autistic child who is served all year in a self-contained setting, cannot be assessed with a one-size-fits-all instrument at their grade level instead of their abiity level ( which they are taught at until it increases. Wake up legislators. I challenge you to teach in any public school classroom, have a variety of ESE and ESOL students in your class, throw in a few disruptive or Oppostional Defiant kids into the mix ( as we all have in our class every day) and lets see how well their pay looks at the end of the year. You know the old saying, “You can’t judge a man until you walk a day in his shoes”. Well, come on and do it, and then let’s see if you still feel the same way! Corporate America, I extend the same challenge to you as well. Long hours, well beyond contracted/paid time; frustrating and dangerous working conditions; lack of basic supplies; purchasing supplies out of your own pocket; and lack of respect by the community, and a constant demand from outsiders to “produce more, complain less, make do with what you have, stop whinning, be paid on the expertise displayed by your students” – let’s see how you could do it better. Any leader leads by example. If we teachers have been doing it wrong, then walk a semester in our shoes and show us how it could be done better!!!!!!!
    A Veteran Teacher of 33 Years!!!

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  10. It’s not as much about partisanship as it is about support for a union that has done nothing except feed off of this mess. Eliminate the unions and find a way to eliminate bad teachers. Do both of those and we’d have a much better system.
    Instead, unions want more pay, less accountability, and less measurement of progress. They support Democrats exclusively.

    Republicans are in charge. They are tired of the union tripe. People are tired of the union tripe. I’ll let you add two and two, and look what it got us…all of us.

    Politicans will always screw things up…they always have. But, if you want a real solution, stop the unions. You will then stop the partisanship that is ruining our educational system.

    http://scottfactor.com

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  11. I believe in this day and age, that it’s a myth that the majority of teachers teach for the sake of “giving” to the meek, poor and down-trodden. It they were so altruistic, they would not unionize, demonstrate and picket for higher pay and job protection. The teacher of today is out for a buck, if they give back, most seem to resent it after the fact. I say pay them once a year … after their pupils PASS the TEST! Pay on completion would be fairer to the student and the tax payer. Correspondingly, if the student fails the test, do not pass them on.

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  12. Yes, Angry Tax Payer, you’re right! Teachers should work without pay, without benefits and without respect. Even altruists have mortgages to pay and families to feed. Or should police officers, firemen, doctors etc. do it for the sheer “pleasure” of helping people? Where do you work, or do you work? Do you work for free? Do you get paid once a year? And if teachers are out for the “big buck” as you claim then why select teaching which pays far less than many other occupations but still requires continuing to take classes to keep teaching certificates current at the expense of teachers? Perhaps they unionize because of petty minded individuals who want to blame teachers for the fact that parents haven’t taught their kids to respect and appreciate education. It is obvious that you must have had some pretty terrible teachers due to your extremely uninformed and knee jerk comments.

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  13. I do not wish to get political in my comments but I will say a couple of things about Mike. I was a student of Mike Matteo’s twice, in junior high and in high school and I can tell you this, he is one of the reasons that I graduated high school at all. I am now an almost 40-year-old adult with a successful business of my own and consider myself fairly intelligent. In school, I had many problems at home that effected my learning and concentration. Almost every teacher with the exception of a few were mean, nasty and just had the “I don’t care” attitude when it came to anyone who didn’t just perform mainstream without needing any extra help or attention. Not only did Mike push us to do our best but to this day he remembers us all by name and face and remembers details abous his students that we ourselves have forgotten about. I am sorry that a teacher like Mike was pushed out the way that he was because he could really lead by example if allowed to not to mention, Mike is the best teacher that I have ever had! Thank you for making such a difference in my life. I wish that more teachers would care as much as you do, Mike, and quit boo-hooing about what they don’t get for themselves!

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  14. Thank you Ericka, seeing students like you excel as adults gives me the greatest feeling. Teaching wasn’t just a job to me, it was a very rewarding experience because it allowed me to give something back. I’m proud that so many of my students, now adults with kids of their own, have excelled in life and it is my hope that one day kids’ needs will take center stage away from the politics and bureaucratic issues that pushes good teachers out of the system. Ericka, you were a student who I knew would achieve great things and I thank you so much for your kind words.

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