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Welcome back to Educating from the Heart. Episode 3 has two segments:
Annual Contract Dilemma
It was the first bill signed into law by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 shortly after assuming office. The Student Success Act altered several aspects of teaching, including removing the ability for a newly hired teacher in Florida to be awarded a renewable multi-year employment agreement by a county school district. Currently, a teacher is placed on an annual contract after completing one year of probationary employment with an evaluation that is satisfactory or above. Each annual contract teacher can have their contract non-renewed at the end of the school year without cause and regardless of how well they perform.
Prior to the law, educators worked three years to achieve a non-probationary status and would then become eligible for a multi-year employment agreement. Lawmakers have maintained that annual contracts help school districts identify and remove bad teachers and attract and retain quality teachers. But since the inception of annual contracts, Florida school districts have been left struggling with escalating staff shortages and a culture of trepidation.
- An annual contract teacher in Florida who asked to remain anonymous
- Kevin Daly, former ESE teacher and president of the Teachers Association of Lee County
- Dr. Angela Pruitt, Lee County Schools, Human Resources
- Victoria Smith, high school geometry teacher and president of the Citrus County Education Association
- Annual Contracts: An Attack on Teacher Professionalism (FEA Frontline blog)
- As Teacher Morale Hits a New Low, Schools Look for Ways to Give Breaks, Restoration (EdWeek, Jan. 6, 2021)
- Teachers blindsided after being let go at end of school year, union says (St. Augustine Record, June 1, 2019)
- How Due Process Protects Teachers and Students (PDF, 639 KB; American Educator, Summer 2015)
- Bad Policy and Low Pay: How Florida is Undermining Student Success (FEA Frontline blog)
A Shot in the Arm
Florida schools entered the second semester with local districts urging parents to return their students to in-person learning. As the Covid-19 positivity rate continues to climb and school buildings and classrooms overflow, Florida educators are questioning when they’ll be prioritized to receive their shot in the arm. Gov. DeSantis has ignored the CDC guidelines for vaccine distribution by not including teachers with other frontline workers in the initial rollout.
Florida educators age 65 and older are eligible to receive an inoculation, but long lines and limited supplies have made it difficult for them, even those with serious medical conditions, to obtain their shot. The situation has left many teachers and school support professionals anxious, weary and frustrated over lack of protection.
The FEA, school district leaders, principals and parents have urged the governor to reconsider reprioritizing teachers and school staff professionals. Those requests have fallen on deaf ears.
- Anthony S. Colucci, Ed. S., NBCT and president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers
- Traci Stiles, high school math teacher
- FEA’s letter to Gov. DeSantis on educator vaccinations (PDF, 198 KB; Dec. 16, 2020), which begins:
On behalf of the 150,000 members of the Florida Education Association (FEA), I am writing to encourage you to prioritize prekindergarten-12 school and higher education employees in the state vaccination plan. We believe this action is necessary to decrease community spread and to better ensure instructional continuity by reducing the number of education staff who are unable to work because of COVID-related illness. … Read the full letter.
- Where Teachers Are Eligible for COVID 19 Shots (EdWeek; As of Jan. 25, at least 23 states have made some or all teachers eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine.)
- DeSantis Vaccine Distribution Mid-January Update (Jan. 11, 2021)
- Florida’s COVID Response Dashboard
- Coronavirus Task Force Suggests Weekly Testing For Florida K-12-Teachers (WJXT, News4Jax; Jan. 19, 2021)
- Florida’s Surgeon General on vaccine wait: ‘We will get to you’ (AP News, Jan. 20, 2021)
- Superintendent Hanna, Alan Cox and Terri Anderson help process LCS Employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine from the Leon County Department of Health. (Facebook; Jan. 16, 2021; All LCS employees 65-and-older as well as clinic workers will be getting their shot appointments today.)
- Single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could soon head to FDA (ABC 7 News; Jan. 20, 2021)
- How the Johnson & Johnson Single Dose Vaccine Works (Prevention; Jan. 29, 2021)
- As Teacher Morale Hits a New Low, Schools Look for Ways to Give Breaks, Restoration (EdWeek; Jan. 6, 2021)