Published: Mar 30, 2010 7:56 PM EDT

Despite massive opposition from Florida's teachers, Senate bill 6 continues to move through the state capitol.


The bill, sponsored by state Sen. John Thrasher, would require that school systems evaluate and pay teachers primarily on the basis of student test scores. Advanced degrees and professional credentials, including National Board Certification, would no longer be a factor in teacher pay. And experience in the classroom wouldn't assure teachers a raise.


While teachers unions, and the teachers they represent, are voicing their opposition, the bill has one very strong supporter, Florida's Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. He recently issued this statement about the bill.


Statement from Florida's Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith:


“Today’s State Board of Education meeting offered the perfect moment to highlight the exciting direction our education system is heading in and the incredible opportunities that are on the horizon for our students, teachers and schools. In my opening comments to board members, I outlined some of the most recent successes our state has achieved and the positive movements that are underway to accelerate our academic progress and transform our education system into a model for the nation. Highlights of my comments follow:


“Florida is unique in its consistency of purpose surrounding our service to our children. From our Governor and Legislature, to the work happening in individual classrooms, there is a shared commitment to producing better outcomes for our students. Our state has been blazing a trail of educational progress across our nation and we have been able to do that based on two primary factors: strong instruction by our teachers and a focused, intentional reform effort at the state level.


“There are several things happening both here and in the nation that stand to make our progress even more profound. One of those is Senate Bill 6, which I refer to as the Informed Teacher Evaluation and Compensation bill. This legislation calls for us to significantly recognize and compensate our teachers for the good work they do on behalf of their students. Should the bill be signed into law, we will have three years to develop a fair and transparent system of evaluation that is built through collaboration and input from educators. Half of this evaluation would be based on the learning gains of a teacher’s students and the other half on valuable and informed observations of that teacher’s work in the classroom. This is not a bonus program and it is certainly not a pay cut for teachers. Instead, this is an opportunity to elevate our greatest educators and commend them for what they have been able to accomplish.


“Another exciting piece of legislation is Senate Bill 4, which I refer to as the Graduation Requirements bill. This bill will ramp up our requirements for graduation over the next several years so that our students graduate with a meaningful diploma that will allow them to compete and excel in today’s economy. Through it we will require that students take, and pass, core courses such as Geometry and Biology that will prepare them for success in college or a career. We must ensure our students do not graduate with a diploma to nowhere and this bill puts the necessary requirements in place to avoid that scenario.