Teachers File Federal 736 Lawsuit

NEA, FEA file a federal lawsuit over Florida’s teacher evaluation procedure

Cook vs. Bennett Legal Challenge   |   736 Federal Legal Challenge Overview   |   Leader Resources  | Hear from 2 of the 7 Plaintiffs

NEA Today: ‘Enough is Enough’: Florida Teachers Sue to Block Flawed Evaluation System

The National Education Association (NEA) and the Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the evaluation of teachers based on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach or based on subjects they do not teach.

Florida Teachers File Federal Lawsuit Against StateThe lawsuit is brought by seven accomplished teachers in Alachua, Escambia and Hernando counties. They are bringing the suit against the Florida Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education and the school boards of those three counties, that have implemented the evaluation system to comply with  SB 736, passed during the 2011 session of the Florida Legislature.

“This lawsuit highlights the absurdity of the evaluation system that has come about as a result of SB 736,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “Teachers in Florida are being evaluated using a formula designed to measure learning gains in the FCAT math and reading tests. But most teachers, including the seven in this lawsuit, don’t teach those subjects in the grades the test is administered. One of the teachers bringing this suit is getting evaluated on the test scores of students who aren’t even in her school.”

“Seven accomplished educators in Florida are pushing back against one arbitrary, irrational and unfair evaluation system,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  ”But they are supported by hundreds of thousands of educators across the country who are fed up with flawed evaluation systems being pushed by politicians and corporate education reformers in school districts across the country. As unthinkable as it might seem for a teacher to be evaluated on the performance of students they do not teach or subjects they do not teach -- we know that it’s happening and not just in Florida. NEA is proud to stand with our Florida colleagues to say ‘NO’ to evaluation systems that don’t help improve student learning or the practice of teaching.”

The lawsuit was filed today in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division. The lawsuit contends that teachers’ evaluations based on the test scores of students they do not teach or based on subjects they do no teach violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

These evaluations have high stakes consequences. Teachers who are rated unsatisfactory (the lowest of the four performance ratings under the law) two consecutive years or two out of three years in a row are subject to termination or non-renewal.  Transfers, promotions and layoffs are based on the assigned performance rating.  And, as of July 1, 2014, salaries will be based on the assigned performance rating as well. 

(Please call Mark Pudlow at 850.201.3223 or 850.508.9756 to arrange interviews with any of the plaintiffs.)

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.

Hear 2 of the plaintiffs express their concerns

  • Bethann Brooks:
    Bethann Brooks watched her performance rating slip from "highly effective" to "effective." She teaches health science to juniors and seniors at Central High in Brooksville. But her evaluation was based on reading test scores tallied on freshmen and sophomores.
  • Kim Cook:
    Kim Cook teaches first-grade at W.W. Irby Elementary in Alachua, which is composed of only kindergarten, first grade and second grade. These are not FCAT required grades so students in those grades don't take standardized tests. Cook's evaluation is based on the test scores of third-graders at another school nearby, Alachua Elementary.
  • President Andy Ford

Related News Articles

Washington Post article: Lawsuit: Stop evaluating teachers on test scores of students they never taught (update)

New York Times: Florida: Teachers Sue Over Evaluation System

Associated Press: James Rosica Teachers unions sue Fla. over teacher evaluations

USA Today:  Florida teachers sue over new rating system

Washington Post: Teachers in Florida sue state claiming job evaluation system is unfair

Yahoo! News: Evaluating Teachers on Kids They’ve Never Even Met? Yes, This Happens

Washington Post Blog: The Answer Sheet: Lawsuit: Stop evaluating teachers on test scores of students they never taught

AJC:  Florida teachers file lawsuit today to stop evaluations that rely on test scores

Orlando Sentinel: Teachers union files federal lawsuit over evaluations tied to test scores

DailyKos: Teachers sue to block Florida teacher evaluation system

Washington Post: “A ‘value-added’ travesty for an award-winning teacher

WTXL – ABC Tallahassee: Teachers file federal lawsuit over "teacher merit pay"

Tallahassee Democrat: Teachers challenge evaluation system in federal court

Tampa Bay Times: FEA lawsuit challenging teacher evaluations unveiled

EduWONK: “Watch this lawsuit”

Tampa Bay Times:  FEA lawsuit challenging teacher evaluations unveiled

Tallahassee Democrat:  Update: Teachers challenge evaluation system in federal court

Tuesday Morning Reads: Florida Sun-Sentinel runs Orlando Sentinel article

Big Education A.P.E. reposts Valerie Strauss blog post:

SchoolsMatter blog: Evaluations Based on Test Scores Goes to Court in Florida

Jacksonville’s PolitiJax blog: Teacher unions file federal lawsuit challenging merit-pay law

Steve Sawchuk in TeacherBeat (EdWeek) Florida Unions Sue Over Test-Score-Based Evaluations

NPR StateImpact: Teachers Union Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Florida Teacher Evaluations

Miami Herald Teachers sue the state Board of Ed, challenge new educator evaluation protocol

Gainesville.com: Local teachers lead effort to sue district, state over evaluation methods

Pensacola – PNJ.com Escambia teachers union part of teacher evaluation lawsuit


http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2086169 (Kim Cook and Dennis Van Roekel quoted)

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/04/16/florida-teachers-file-lawsuit-today-to-stop-evaluations-that-rely-on-test-scores/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog (Kim Cook quoted)
http://www.pnj.com/article/20130416/EDUCATION/130416016/Escambia-teachers-union-part-teacher-evaluation-lawsuit- (Kathy Breakall quoted)

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=32464024 (Andy Ford and Ron Meyer quoted)

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20130417/NEWS01/304170021?source=nletter-top5 (Ron Meyer and Dennis Van Roekel quoted)

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-teacher-evaluations-union-challenge-20130416,0,1393357.story (Andy Ford, Kim Cook, Bethann Brooks and Ron Meyer quoted)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/education/florida-teachers-sue-over-evaluation-system.html (Andy Ford quoted)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/teachers-in-florida-sue-state-claiming-job-evaluation-system-is-unfair/2013/04/16/32fbb400-a6c4-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html (Kim Cook, Dennis Van Roekel and Alice O’Brien quoted)

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20130416/ARTICLES/130419672/1002/news01?Title=Local-teachers-lead-effort-to-sue-district-state-over-evaluation-methods (Karen McCann, Kim Cook and Janine Plavac quoted)

http://news.yahoo.com/evaluating-teachers-kids-ve-never-even-met-yes-225006768.html (Andy Ford and Dennis Van Roekel quoted)

http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/teachers-unions-file-federal-suit-against-pay-law (Andy Ford and Ron Meyer quoted)


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