Broward News

Hello, SB 736. Goodbye, Teacher Tenure

Well, I hope Wendy Portillo is pleased with herself.

Three years ago, the WPB teacher got on the bad side of one bad mutha named Melissa Barton, when she abused Mrs. Barton's autistic child in the classroom. After a year of paid leave, Portillo compounded the offense by returning to work and allegedly abusing another child -- a deaf girl this time, 'cuz Portillo's just that classy. Why was she able to return to work? Teacher tenure, which makes it both difficult and fiscally irresponsible to fire teachers, even bad ones. Melissa Barton, watching these events unfold, became teacher tenure's mortal enemy, and has spent the last year barking and punditizing SB 736 into law. Friday, it was signed by Rick Scott.

Like most laws, it's good and bad, smart and dumb. It's good because it'll now be easier to fire bad teachers. It's bad because it's gonna get a whole lot easier to terminate good ones. It's smart because it's gonna base teachers' pay increases on their professional accomplishments. It's dumb because those professional accomplishments will be measured by standardized tests -- odious things, the presence of which in our classroom all but guarantees that no actual learning is taking place.

Oh, well. For those kids who want to learn, there's always the library. For those teachers who want to teach, there's always private schools. For parents who demand a choice, there are always charter schools. Interestingly, it was in one of these buildings that Rick Scot signed SB 736 into law.

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Brandon K. Thorp