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Statement By:
Barney Bishop III, President and CEO, Associated Industries of Florida

Regarding Passage of Teacher Tenure and Performance Pay Legislation

April 9, 2010

“Earlier today, Florida took a historic step forward on landmark education reform that will forever change our state’s ability to effectively compete in an increasingly competitive global market. The success of Florida’s students equates to the success of Florida’s workforce - the teacher tenure and performance pay bill will ensure accountability in the classroom. Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) and its members congratulate legislators on their bold move to serve as the model for the nation in education reform. What we are witnessing today is the act of true leadership – the ability to see the need for change and courage to make that change happen. Senate President Jeff Atwater, House Speaker Larry Cretul and Republican leadership across the board deserve the praise of all Floridians today for their determination to fight the status-quo.

The enormous reform set forth in the teacher tenure and performance pay bill that was passed by the Senate last week, and now by the House, is solidly supported by Florida’s business community. Now, Florida’s attention turns to Governor Crist and his ability to be a visionary as his legislative counterparts have already done. Supported by former Governor Bush and the Obama Administration, the education reform bill that will be sent to the Governor’s desk is fundamentally sound and will propel our state’s public education system into the 21st century. To be clear, this bill is not an attack on teachers.

AIF supports Florida’s teachers and the dutiful service they provide to students statewide; however, teacher unions seem committed to being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The performance pay provisions in this bill will create a system that allows the best teachers to have a career in the classroom. With a career path based on achievement rather than time amassed, Florida’s teachers will be able to share in the success of their students.

Florida needs leadership now more than ever and we are confident Governor Crist will sign this legislation which will be part of his legacy as Governor. This legislation is long-overdue and will align Florida with the national push to reward those teachers who shine and make certain our students are prepared to exceed the demands of the future economic climate.”