A pair of political races in Florida are a microcosm of the battle being waged for the soul of our nation’s public school system. Sensing that he was on the verge of losing the Republican nomination for Senate, Charlie Crist opted to veto SB6 — a bill that would have brought massive reforms to Florida’s school systems — throwing his lot in with teachers unions and others opposed to reform. His opponent, Marco Rubio, has made that veto a central part of his campaign and raised $4.5 million in campaign funds last quarter.
The Republican candidate for governor, meanwhile, is promising that SB6 will not only return, it’ll be stronger than before. Bill McCollum announced his education platform last week, and it’s a doozy:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum announced his education platform Friday, saying he wants to make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating tenure and base their pay raises on classroom performance instead of seniority.
McCollum would also increase standards for teachers in the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program for 4 year olds, expand a program that gives corporations tax breaks for providing private school scholarships for low-income students and require most high school students to take at least one course online.
Politicians are finally starting to realize that tenure is a real and serious problem for our nation’s schools. Florida has become an interesting petri dish; it will be fascinating to see if Rubio and McCollum are able to translate their ideas for education reform into support from the public.