The political theater surrounding Senate Bill 6 was brought to a conclusion this morning as Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill, ending the effort by state Republicans to ostensibly reform our state education system. Opponents of the bill are primarily teachers’ unions who adamantly oppose tethering student performance to teacher pay raises. In an effort to get Crist to oppose the bill, teachers from Hillsborough County canvassed their county urging residents to support Governor’s Senate campaign provided that he veto the legislative intiative.
In our view, while the motives of this bill are good ones- the need for greater teacher accountability is essential and non-negotiable. However, it appears that the means by which teacher accountability is determined- tethering teacher pay raises to student outcomes- is highly questionable. We think this bill in its present form should be reconsidered and revised before it is ultimately adopted into law. But the merits of the bill aside, there are looming questions as to the surrounding politics of this whole drama.
There are rumors of a deal in place between the Florida Education Association (FEA) and Charlie Crist for the union to run one million dollars of attack ads against Marco Rubio, Crist’s opponent in the U.S. Senate primary. This would be in violation of FEC laws, as campaigns cannot coordinate with 501c non-profit organizations. Call us cynical, but we must inquire- was this whole legislative spectacle orchestrated from the get-go by the Governor and other interested parties to allow Crist to play the role of the hero by intervening at the height of this drama and veto this largely unpopular measure- thus winning him the support of the teacher’s union (at least temporarily), and enabling him to be viewed as an independent maverick who bucks his own party, making himself more appealing to centrists and Democrats? Inquiring minds want to know.