Florida Teachers Express Opposition To Senate Bill 6

The bill threatens to push experienced teachers out of the classroom and place students in classrooms with teachers of little experience.

Letter to Members of the Florida Senate  | SB - 6 Analysis  | Current Law Has the Fix FEA Press Conference

President Ford's Comments  | RAND Report: Merit Pay for Florida Teachers  Performance Pay in Florida

Link to bill:

Teachers from throughout Floridahave expressed their opposition to the provisions in a broad and harsh proposal unveiled last week by Republican leaders in the Florida Senate.


Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), which is scheduled to be heard this week in the Senate PreK-12 Committee, has 38 sections that would do everything from crippling the idea of community control of public schools to no longer considering a teacher’s experience or advanced degrees in salaries to foisting even more standardized tests on our schools. The bill threatens to push experienced teachers out of the classroom and place students in classrooms with teachers of little experience.


The 61-page bill would:

• Decrease the ability of local school boards and school districts to make a wide array of decisions having an impact on local schools and replacing them with a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Tallahassee.

• Require that all teachers be retained, certified and compensated based on student test scores on standardized tests -- not years of experience or degrees held.

• Penalize school districts that even consider length of service or degrees held when determining compensation or reductions in force.

• Order that teachers be issued probationary contracts for up to five years; then an annual contract every year after that … eliminating due process.

• Mandate more standardized testing for students (end of course exams for all subjects) and for teachers (additional certification requirements).

• Exclude the salary schedule as a subject of collective bargaining. The state will decide what categories of differentiated pay will be provided for.

• The state will have a much greater hand in appraisals.

• Abolish an effective and popular program that rewards those who become National Board Certified Teachers, a rigorous national program that awards certification after a yearlong, independent review of a teacher’s work in the classroom and knowledge of their field.


“In recent years, we’ve been told Florida’s made great strides to improve the quality of education and raise student achievement,” said FEA President Andy Ford.” Last year, when a record number of ‘A’ grades were achieved in our public schools, Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith said, ‘These are tremendous results for our schools, and every teacher, student, parent and administrator should be proud of the work they’ve done this year.’ Governor Charlie Crist said, ‘Florida is truly blessed to have such high quality teachers who have made our education system one of the best in the nation.’ SB 6 punishes the teachers who delivered these stunning educational gains. It lashes out at the teachers who have made Florida schools a model for the nation, the same teachers Governor Crist says we’re ‘blessed’ to have in our classrooms. Well, if SB 6 passes, they won’t be in our classrooms much longer.”


Tom Lentz, a National Board Certified English teacher at Ridge Community High School in Polk County, related his thoughts about what political leaders should do.


“If you want to thank teachers here are some things you can put a number on: more planning time so that we plan the lessons your students deserve; fewer students so we can give them the individualized attention they need; and pay us for our experience, education and skills we bring to the classroom every day.” Lentz said. “Don’t punish us with Senate Bill 6.”


The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

Press conference participants below: 


Beth Schladenhauffen

James E. Plew Elementary School

Niceville, FL

For 28 years, Beth Schladenhauffen has taught across the country – in Georgia, Colorado, Alaska, and now, Florida.


Shari Lynn Gewanter

Oak Ridge Elementary School

Tallahassee, FL

Shari Lynn Gewanter has taught kindergarten for eight years at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Tallahassee, FL. She and her colleagues transformed Oak Ridge from a “C” school to an “A” school in one year.



Thomas Lentz

Ridge Community High School

Davenport, FL

Thomas Lentz began teaching high school English in Polk County in January 2003. He is certified in English 6-12 and ESOL endorsed. He achieved National Board Certification in 2008. He currently teaches English III and Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition at Ridge Community High School in the Davenport/Haines City area. His AP course has been approved by the College Board since they began approving courses in 2007. He is currently working on his master’s degree in Educational Leadership with the American College of Education.


Throughout the course of his career, he has taken in two students who were in need. The first graduated from Ridge Community High School in 2006 and is currently a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps stationed in San Diego, California. The second graduated from RCHS in 2009 and is currently a freshman at Stetson University in DeLand.



Quintera S. Parris

Design and Architecture Senior High

Miami, FL

Quintera S. Parris, is the 10th grade Language Arts teacher at Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH). Whether it is popping popcorn in order to inspire imagery-filled memories of buttery goodness from students’ pens, or lining up willing volunteers to create human sentences that perpetuate “punctuation power”, Mrs. Parris, a teacher with over ten years of experience, employs strategies that allow her students to explore their creative side while learning pertinent reading and writing skills in the process.


In addition to inspiring and motivating students to realize their fullest potential, she serves as the school’s United Teachers of Dade (UTD) building steward and the advisor of DASH’s Future Educators of America club. Two years ago she became a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) in English Language Arts and this year she was selected DASH’s Teacher of the Year. During the summer, she is the Leader of The City of North Miami’s Gold Camp, a performance arts program that provides students an opportunity to discover and develop their talents in dance, music, and theater.


Mrs. Parris has a Bachelors of Arts in English and a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership. She is married to Ray L. Parris and is the proud mother of five vivacious children.



Karen Peek

Bluewater Elementary School

Niceville, FL

Karen Peek has taught for 25 years in Okaloosa County. She’s a full-time classroom teacher and the President of
Okaloosa CEA.



Joseph W. Underwood

Miami Senior High School

Miami, FL


Dr. Joseph Underwood, established the Arts Related Technology for Entertainment Careers (ARTEC) Academy at Miami Senior High School to assist students who have an interest in a career in the television, movie and sound industries. He has been named the winner of the 2009 Florida Education Association Award for Teaching Excellence, an annual award to celebrate teaching excellence, public education and our dedicated workforce.



Peggy Vause

Oak Ridge Elementary School

Tallahassee, FL


Peggy Vause has taught in Leon County schools for 27 years. Here certifications include: Mental Retardation k-12, Early Childhood (ages 3-5 years), and PreK Endorsement. She is a STAR-teacher. She currently teaches PreK Special Needs Children at Oak Ridge ES.

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