736 Evaluation: A challenge we will continue to fight

Our victories in the legislature and the courts this year are because of our members!

These are tense times for teachers and education staff professionals. The end of the school year is normally a period of slowing down and wrapping up last minute lessons and paperwork. Instead it has become a stressful time thanks to the 736 evaluations imposed by Governor Rick Scott and the legislature. 

Your school district is most likely struggling with the implementation and mandated costs associated with 736. That certainly creates difficulty for teachers dealing with FCAT and now the outcome of their evaluations. (See our evaluations checklist “Evaluate this!”)

FEA members reviewing teacher evaluations
Members work with FEA staff to review SB 736 requirements.


ESPs, many who haven’t  seen a raise in years, are eyeing more budget cuts as districts scrape up money to cover the costs. In some parts of the state, ESPs are defending against increased attempts at privatization, which has become a key consideration for districts looking to resolve fiscal concerns.


Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon will tell you they restored $1 billion to the education budget to help cover those costs. But Scott and Legislative leaders won’t talk about  the $1.3 billion that they slashed from the budget last year and how this budget won't replace the 1,400 teacher and 4,000 ESP jobs that were sacrificed. It won’t restore the lost  programs for students.


While this budget helps cover the loss of emergency federal funding, the loss of property taxes due to lower property values and the anticipated increase in enrollment for the upcoming school year, it won't stop the ongoing loss of arts, music and athletic programs and growing class sizes. Instead, the budget  expands charter schools and funnels more money into corporate voucher schools. Here's another example of political leaders favoring unproven and less accountable schools over our traditional neighborhood schools.


It’s also the primary reason why so many legislators supported the Parent Trigger style bills that we defeated during the 2012 session. Parent Trigger allows charter school companies to come in and coerce  parents into signing petitions to convert their public schools into for-profit, corporate charter schools.


They also tried to ram through the Prison Privatization bill which we also defeated. It would have made it much easier for the legislature to privatize prisons and schools by doing away public notice and input into these decisions.


Here’s the good news

Our victories in the legislature and the courts this year are because of our members! The FEA won the first round in our lawsuit to stop the 3% retirement contribution imposed by the legislature last year. The case is now before the Florida Supreme Court. Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford called the pension income tax unconstitutional because it violates existing employment contracts. The judge also ruled that current retirees were owed their 3% cost-of-living increase. Unfortunately, Gov. Scott continues to fight the ruling, spending $800,000 on out-of-state lawyers. So until the Supreme Court rules, the 3% will keep coming out of our checks.


Elected officials are making decisions that directly impact YOUR JOB. It doesn’t matter what your job or the position that you hold, it everyone’s responsibility to fight to save our schools, jobs and public education. We must stop electing people who place self-interest ahead of the interest of our children. We must elect politicians who support sensible reform and are willing to work with teachers, ESPs and their union.


The 736 Challenge Continues

That’s why the FEA is working with your local union to identify effective evaluation models. Our bargaining specialists are developing strategies to assist in local negotiations to lessen the impact of SB 736. An evaluation checklist  called “Evaluate this!” has been created to help members prepare for the observation portion of the assessment. FEA members will comply with SB 736. We will continue to advocate for our students, our teachers, our ESPs and our schools. Your union will not stop fighting.


But we need everyone’s support. If there’s someone working beside you who is still waiting to become a member, ask them to join.


Make sure you and your colleagues are aware of the new voter laws. It’s important that you make sure TODAY that you are registered to vote and that your voter registration information is correct and up to date.

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