Robert Dow is doing "pretty darned good" today, and it's not hard to see why: Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the unpopular teacher's merit pay bill on Thursday, ending the threat of no-tenure-hires and pay scales based on students' standardized test performances. So if Dow, president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association (CTA), is smiling, then let him -- the victory has lent confidence to the CTA, and with several more unpopular educational acts weaving their way into law, there are plenty of fights ahead for Dow.
"Teachers who had incredibly low morale and were frustrated and angry, who felt that this bill was an insult to education and an insult to professionals, are very gratified that the veto has passed," Dow says. "They're very pleased that the governor actually will listen to the will of people."
Teachers and local groups feel more confident taking on more potential threats to the
Florida public school system now that they've tangibly created change, Dow says. Ahead is SJR 2, a proposed state constitutional amendment that would relax class size limits and rebloat the classroom. The amendment will be on the November ballot, where it must get 60 percent voter approval to pass -- and it looks like it will pass. "Since the constitutional amendment to make class sizes smaller, student achievement went up, graduation rates went up... and yet they're trying to undo everything," Dow says.
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"Think about it: small class size, very little administration, and not much of a budget -- and Sullivan did a hell of a job with Helen Keller. I think it was Socrates who did a very good job with Plato. The more attention that you can give individual students, the more they succeed."