Testing Crist, too

The Florida education-reform spotlight is about to shift from the legislature to the governor's office, where Charlie Crist is probably going to have to decide, perhaps as early as tonight, whether to sign or veto the major "teacher reform" bill. (The state House is expected to pass it later today in the same form that already cleared the state Senate.) That measure would overhaul the Sunshine State's teacher compensation system, one key area in which Florida lost RTTT points in round one. Though it is bitterly opposed by the unions and their fellow travelers, the bill will certainly make Florida's education system stronger. It would, among other things, base half of teacher evaluations on student performance, eliminate automatic salary increases for graduate degrees or extra credentials, and drop teacher tenure altogether in favor of annual contracts. Yet Crist has lately hinted that he may put the kibosh on all of this. Could it be a result of the media firestorm surrounding the reforms, ignited and fanned by the predictable detractors? "Shame on any public servant who doesn't listen to the people," Crist told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. But which people? Is he listening only to adult interest groups or to the kids and parents crying out for excellent teachers? Gadfly profoundly hopes the governor doesn't wimp out on this test of his education-reform mettle.

Crist hints he’ll veto teacher merit pay bill,” by Josh Hafenbeck, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 7, 2010

Florida’s merit-pay plan for teachers prompts debate,” by Hannah Sampson and Kathleen McGrory, Miami Herald, April 3, 2010

Merit pay bill gains momentum,” by Lloyd Dunkelberger, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 6, 2010