Welcome to the New Website for Asscociated Industries of Florida...The Voice of Florida Business!
Statement By:
Barney Bishop III, President and CEO, Associated Industries of Florida

Regarding Teacher Unions’ Opposition to Teacher Tenure and Merit Pay (SB 6)

April 2, 2010

“High-quality, effective CEOs generally lead successful businesses staffed by productive employees. The classroom is no different. Research has consistently shown that students perform better and achieve more when there is a highly-qualified teacher at the front of the room. Why does this matter to Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) and the business community? Because from the moment our students enter school to the day they graduate from high school, they are preparing. They are preparing for higher education and to ultimately enter the workforce. And, the employers that will eventually hire these students expect them to arrive on the job with certain skills and knowledge sets. Sadly, far too many students enter the job market woefully ill-prepared putting our state’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

It’s time to institute a better process that results in better-prepared students and we can affect the greatest impact by changing how we evaluate and reward our teachers. Being evaluated based on the results produced and rewarded for a job well-done with additional compensation are not anomalous methods for determining employment status or pay. In fact, it’s the model most businesses and organizations use. Further, it is a model we need to adapt to public education if we have any hope of drawing down federal Race to the Top dollars. Unfortunately, efforts by forward-thinking senators to apply these principles to Florida’s public education system have been met with a campaign spearheaded by teacher unions designed to frighten and incite teachers, parents and students.

Reports suggesting students have been instructed to call and write these senators, as well as the Senate President’s office, as a means to advance the position of SB 6 opponents are incredibly distressing. While AIF strongly supports students’ active participation in government, we sincerely hope the teacher unions are not using these students as cover to promote their position. That would be a great injustice not only to the students, but also to the system. Certainly, teacher unions and their members are entitled to lobby legislators. However, taking this issue into the classroom and down to the student level – whether it is letters or phone calls made during school hours – is a tactic we hope teacher unions have not employed.

AIF supports, respects and appreciates teachers. We applaud them for all the good work they do to move our students forward. But, it is time to move past the status-quo when it comes to how we compensate our teachers. Rather than standing in the way of progress, teacher unions need to be part of the solution. This bill is not an attack on teachers. It is a long-overdue action needed to reward those teachers who excel and ensure our students are ready to meet the demands of a 21st Century knowledge-based economy.”