Does John Thrasher really listen to the will of the people

John Thrasher recently pulled his legislation to build golf courses on public parks (friends I can’t make this stuff up). He says he listened to the will of the people.

If that’s the case lets tell him we don’t want to slash education budgets while giving tax breaks to millionaires.

Let’s tell him not to pass unfunded mandates to school districts, that we want our education reforms based on things proven to work, not just the latest fad of the month and that we appreciate and respect our teachers. Senate bill 736 (the son of his senate bill six), has billions in unfunded mandates, is not research based (there is no study that says merit pay works) and harms the teaching profession.

Then let’s let him know, we understand he has a pathological hatred of unions especially teachers unions, but politics is supposed to be civil not about crushing your enemies when you get the chance. Tell him to drop his union busting bills

He says we listens to the people well let’s find out. Please contact him and ask him to the right things on all these issues.

John Thrasher, District 8
(904) 727-3600 * (Fax) 727-3603
E-mail: thrasher.john.web@flsenate.gov

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

Northeast Florida, where public education died

Northeast Florida if you wanted to destroy education, knee cap the middle class and do harm to the state you have come up aces. Embrace what you have done; own it, because if we get much more of Wise, Thrasher and Scott that will be about all you do own, it’s definitely all your children will.

Congratulations Northeast Florida, you are the epicenter for the destruction of the state’s public schools. Your recent dogged insistence to vote against you and your children’s interests and for politicians that couldn’t care less about the both of you have signaled education’s death knell. When you voted for Steven Wise, John Thrasher and Rick Scott you may as well as put a stake through education’s heart and forks in our children, because they too like our schools are done.

Steven Wise is no friend of public education and this has been made more evident by his senate bill 736 or what he laughably calls the teacher quality bill. In his bill teachers become at will employees and can be fired regardless of performance. Speak up? You’re gone. The principal doesn’t like you? You’re gone. The principal’s neighbor has a nephew who thinks he might like to try teaching because it would be cool to have summers off? You’re gone. This not increased quality, is what senate bill 736 will allow to happen. It also gets rid of pay increases for advanced degrees. I hope this irony is not lost on you. In every profession we say the more education you get the better off you will be, every profession except education that is, and it also gets rid of seniority and due process, two of the long established tenants of education.

The bill is also another unfunded mandate. School districts will be required to come up with ways to finance the various teacher salary scales and all the increased testing that the bill calls for. Kids will be taught more to the test than ever because now a teacher’s job is on the line more than ever. These tests are not just going to magically appear. They will be developed and scored by educational testing companies who will drain much needed money away from schools coffers and reap millions in profits. Then there will also be teacher evaluation systems that has Michelle Rhee and others salivating. Oh you didn’t know Michelle Rhee has a teacher evaluation system. Why she does, it’s called IMPACT and it has widely been panned in Washington D.C. which means it is probably on the fast track to Florida; after all she is the darling of Rick Scott and Wise.

Steven Wise has cloaked the bill in simplistic easy to please statements like merit pay and reward our best teachers. He doesn’t mention that teachers, who may know better what’s best for them than he does are overwhelmingly against it. His bill is like giving doctors who didn’t ask for it a clump or dirt and saying it’s a cutting edge scalpel and they must use it. Wise also doesn’t mention that there is no study that says merit pay works. Not one! In fact all the studies say it is the equivalent of the luck of the draw. Teacher’s student’s success on standardized tests varies wildly as students enter and leave their classes.
Wise says he wants to improve education, my question is how? Is it by making teachers want to leave and replacements harder to attract because that is what his bill is really doing; hey Jacksonville great job in voting for him.

Then there is John Thrasher who makes no apologies for his distain, no make that hatred for teachers and their unions and he comes from St. Johns County which is the top school district in the state, thank goodness he didn’t come from a county lower on the list. Wake up St. Johns, his way of thinking is going to hurt the schools and kids in your county as well but I guess some of you didn’t think about that while shooting nine at the country club. Would Deborah Giannoulis really have been such a bad alternative? She ran on a platform of doing what’s best for our kids, Thrasher has a history of doing what’s not.

He wants to end collective bargaining and destroy workers rights. He wants to do this by ending payroll deductions for unions but at the same time continue to allow payroll deductions for the United Way and other organizations and by decertifying unions that have a membership of less than fifty percent plus one. Why should multi-million or billion dollar corporations, his friends and supporters be the only one with a voice in government? In the end all his bill amounts to is rewarding his friends and silencing his enemies. Even if you don’t like unions, is this the America you want to live in? Do you want to live in a country where our corporate over loads tell us what to think and feel and limit the earning power of millions of everyday citizens; if so communist Russia would have been the place for you. This is not just a teacher battle here, this is a battle for the future of the middle class and if we are going to have one or not. Way to go St. Johns, you have just destroyed the teaching profession and public education but potentially the middle class as well, talk about a trifecta.

Thrasher and Wise are so concerned about education that instead of demanding Scott rescind his draconian budget, they develop bills that will handicap and set back the profession. No thanks guys and don’t worry about me I’ll try and get somebody to pull the knife out of my and the thousands of teachers back you just put it in.

Then there is Rick Scott, he of the 1.7 billion dollar fine for fraud who won the election with less than fifty percent of the vote, which was more of a referendum against Obama than for him. You have to hand it to him though, while spending eighty million dollars of his own personal fortune he made the election about Washington D.C. not about Florida. I get it that you don’t like Obammacare but how do you feel about gutting social services for the sick, disabled and children. How do you feel about him curtailing protections for the environment and our rivers and how do you feel about him cutting billions from our already resource starved education system? Friends we were already fiftieth in the nation. He and this is adjusted for inflation, wants to send us back to 1976 levels of school spending, you know before all the unfunded mandates and changes to education that siphoned millions away to corporate charter schools, vouchers and education testing companies.

North East Florida voted for this transplant and while hoping to create additional tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals in addition to the billions we already give, he seeks to balance the budget on the backs of the working poor and the middle class. Cut your own throat much North East Florida.

He won by saying he would create jobs, well the tens of thousands of teachers and government workers who are about to find themselves unemployed aren’t so optimistic about his plan. And friends we are already a low tax, pro business state without an income tax. If companies aren’t rushing here now do you really thing they are going to do so after we destroy public education, curtail government services and harm the environment?

Northeast Florida once again, if you wanted to destroy education, knee cap the middle class and do harm to the state you have come up aces. Embrace what you have done; own it, because if we get much more of Wise, Thrasher and Scott that will be about all you do, it’s definitely all your children will.

Steven Wise is no friend of Education

Steven Wise is no friend of education

Let me tell you about the months of coloration and input on the bill that Wise seems so proud of. It was the equivalent of forcing a four year old who has no love for vegetables to choose between squash and lima beans. I use a four year old in my analogy because the legislature has chosen to treat teachers like children. These same teachers when testifying who were overwhelmingly against the bill were filed in one after another only to be dismissed while another NFOE Michelle Rhee was given rock star treatment. John Thrasher perhaps the biggest NFOE around even cut off testimony, saying how many times can I hear the same thing; so much for democracy at work.

Wise says people are against teachers having tenure, well I bet they are against teachers losing their right of due process, which is what they actually have even more. He says they are for merit pay, well who isn’t, except education isn’t as simple as, fire bad teachers reward excellent ones. Study after study has shown has shown merit pay based on standardized tests does not work. It rewards the luck of the teachers draw (who is in their classes) rather than the teacher’s ability to teach. Yet Wise would have you believe differently. Do we want education policies decided on what sounds good (FCAT anyone) or tried and true research. Who should be making decisions for what’s best for kids, teachers in classrooms and parents (most of whom are likewise against the bill) or politicians who have already meddled with public schools almost to death.

Friends don’t let slick packaging and a snake oil salesmen’s tongue convince you this bill is good for education and it’s doing teachers and children a favor. It’s not on both accounts. It’s another attempt by those who hate public education to further cripple public education.

I would say urge your representative to vote against this bill except it was a done deal, regardless of what Wise would have you believe, as soon as Rick Scott was elected, it would be pointless of me to do so. Instead I urge you to remember this day the next time you are in a voting booth. Then please vote what’s best for Florida’s children.

Chris Guerrieri

John Thrasher hates teachers or hates teachers the most

I just wonder what some teacher did to him to make him hate all teachers so much. -cpg

From the Florida Times Union

By Brandon Larrabee

TALLAHASSEE – The debate over the successors to last year’s polarizing teacher-pay bill once again turned heated Wednesday, as opponents fumed about a decision by Sen. John Thrasher to cut off debate in the measure’s final Senate committee.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said his chamber would vote on its version of the bill during the first week of the upcoming legislative session, which begins March 8.

The bitter exchanges over the Senate Budget Committee’s vote, the last hurdle standing between the measure and the Senate floor, marked a departure from what has been a notably less raucous procedure for the bill than last year’s fight.

On Wednesday, the budget committee approved the bill 15-5 on an almost party-line vote, with one Democrat supporting the measure. But the vote came after the panel limited debate – under a motion offered by Thrasher, R-St. Augustine – to testimony from a handful of people largely supportive of the bill.

That infuriated opponents, including teachers who had come from hundreds of miles away.

“I drove all night, and I spent five hours getting my sub planned yesterday, and I didn’t get paid – this is my personal day, time off – and I got screwed,” said Chris Ott, a kindergarten teacher in Alachua County.

Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, opposed Thrasher’s motion and was still visibly irritated after the meeting about the limited debate.

“It wouldn’t have changed the vote,” Rich said, “but at least it would have been a better exercise of democracy.”

Supporters of the measure noted that lawmakers heard from both sides for hours on Senate Bill 6 last year, and that the sponsor, Senate Education Chairman Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, has also held numerous hearings this year.

“You can go and go and go, but you have a lot of people saying the same thing over and over, and I think we got the gist of it,” Thrasher said.

This year’s measure would follow some of the same general contours as SB 6. It would tie teachers’ pay raises more closely to student achievement. New teachers would no longer become eligible for long-term contracts after gaining experience and would instead work on a series of one-year agreements.

The House PreK-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee also approved its own version of the measure after hearing hours of debate.

Teachers appeared split, with Rhonda Lochiatto of Volusia County saying she backed the measure as a way to reward the best educators.

But Ott said the bill’s approach appeared to be “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

brandon.larrabee@jacksonville.com, (678) 977-3709

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/florida/2011-02-24/story/florida-senators-action-state-education-bill-angers-opponents#ixzz1EvlB9zbE

Teacher bashing bill picks up steam

From the St. Augustine Record

By KATHLEEN HAUGHNEY

TALLAHASSEE — Key committees in both legislative chambers gave yes votes Thursday to a proposal to partially base teacher salaries on their students’ test scores, a proposal shot down last year after teachers around the state protested that the merit pay system would penalize them.

The measure and a companion House version, would grandfather in current teacher pay plans, but set up new, merit-based ones for teachers hired after July 1, 2014. The proposals also call for an evaluation process to be set up for teachers, but they don’t spell out the details, allowing the Commissioner of Education and local school districts to work out just how teachers would be evaluated.

The Senate Budget Committee voted Wednesday to send its version to the floor — with a technical stop at the Rules Committee to be put on the calendar. The House PreK-20 Competitiveness Committee, meanwhile also voted Wednesday to forward the proposal to its next committee stop. The House bill amended its measure to put it in line with the Senate bill, so both proposals are, for now, the same.

Unlike last year’s measure — SB 6 — the new version would allow the evaluation formula to consider students’ attendance, disciplinary records, disabilities and English proficiency when evaluating teachers for merit pay. It may not, however, set different expectations for students based on gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

Megan Allen, the 2010 Florida teacher of the Year, was among those who spoke out against the bill.

But a student’s home life, which would likely be affected by socioeconomic status, has remained a major sticking point for teachers in their opposition to the bill. Many have said that they see students who are dealing with serious problems at home, which takes their focus away from simple math and reading. Some teachers said they should not be penalized financially because their students on the testing day may have a major problem at home over which the teacher has no control.

Megan Allen, the 2010 Florida teacher of the Year, was among those who spoke out against the bill Thursday as both House and Senate committees debated the bill. Allen, who is her family’s bread winner while her husband goes back to school, said if the current proposal becomes law, she might consider leaving her Hillsborough County school, where more than 90 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunches. She said she is afraid her pay will suffer if a given class of students does not perform well because of problems outside of the classroom.

“It’s not taking into account many adult life struggles that high poverty students experience each day,” she said.

The bills would require districts to set up evaluation systems that rate teachers as “highly effective,” “effective,” “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory.” Half of those evaluations would be based on test scores. They would also allow districts to permanently put new hires on one-year contracts instead of the long term agreements that are in place now, making it easier for administrators to fire teachers.

The proposal has been backed by some high profile and politically powerful groups, namely the Florida Chamber of Commerce and former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education advocacy group, the Foundation for Florida’s Future.

The Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union, has been milder in its opposition to these proposals compared to last spring, when it reacted to the bill by encouraging members to flood lawmakers offices with e-mails, letters and phone calls. But it does seem to be ramping up efforts to fight the bill as it progresses through the Legislature.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist ultimately vetoed the bill last year, citing concerns of fairness to teachers. Prior to the veto, his office said he received 65,259 phone calls and e-mails in opposition and 3,090 in support, with thousands more left uncategorized.

The bill now appears poised for easy passage though, with Gov. Rick Scott pledging his support to merit pay legislation and both House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos making it a top priority.

http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2011-02-23/senate-house-advance-merit-pay-bills

John Thrasher goes after public worker’s unions

From the Miami Herald’s Naked Politics

by Marc Caputoo

Sen. John Thrasher, former state GOP chairman, looks like he has filed a bill (SB830) to starve unions like the Florida Education Association, SEIU, AFL-CIO, firefighters, police unions or AFSCME by banning the Democratic-leaning organizations from using salary deductions for political purposes. The legislation also says any “public employer may not deduct or collect” union dues, etc. Lastly, it says that any public employee who didn’t specifically authorize the use of his money could be entitled to a partial refund.

The bill doesn’t seem to go as far as Wisconsin’s by ending collective bargaining rights in Florida, though in a right-to-work state there’s only so much union bargaining that can take place. Still, the language about union dues sure looks like it’s right out of the play book of the tea party/Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (who incidentally is not a high-speed rail fan, either).

Here are some excerpts from Thrasher’s bill, SB 830, which doesnn’t seem to have a house sponsor. Yet.

“Deductions may not be made for purposes of political activity, including contributions to a candidate, political party, political committee, committee of continuous existence, electioneering communications organization, or organization exempt from taxation under s. 501(c)(4) or s. 527 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

“A public employer may not deduct or collect the dues, uniform assessments, fines, penalties, or special assessments of an employee organization from the compensation of any person employed by the public employer…”

“Unless an employee has executed a written authorization, the employee is entitled to a pro rata refund of any dues, uniform assessments, fines, penalties, or special assessments paid by the employee and used by the labor organization of which the employee is a member to make contributions or expenditures, as defined in s. 106.011. The written authorization must be executed by the employee separately for each fiscal year of the labor organization and shall be accompanied with a detailed account, provided by the labor organization, of all contributions and expenditures made by the labor organization in the preceding 24 months.”

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2011/02/wisconsin-pt-2-john-thrasher-goes-after-union-cheddar.html#ixzz1EgZMOWv7

Why does John Thrasher hate teachers unions?

From the Miami Herald

by KATHLEEN HAUGHNEY

TALLAHASSEE — – A leading Senate Republican has filed a bill that could strip unions of some of their political strength, barring payroll deduction for union dues and prohibiting dues from being used for political activity without written consent.

“I think it’s a freedom issue for people who now are conscripted to having their money taken out of their paychecks,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. “I think it’s more of a thing where they can volunteer to decide what they want to do.”

But at least one union – the teachers’ union – sees it as political payback for its opposition to one of Thrasher’s top legislative priorities last year, a bill that would have drastically reformed teacher pay, partially basing salary bumps on student test data. The bill, also a pet project of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation, received major pushback from teachers who showed up in large numbers to the Capitol to protest the proposal.

Gov. Charlie Crist ultimately vetoed the bill, citing concerns about fairness to educators, particularly special education teachers whose students might have trouble with a standardized exam. The veto gave Crist a huge amount of support from teachers in his unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate, but it enraged GOP lawmakers, including Thrasher, and marked Crist’s departure from the Republican Party.

“These actions are nothing more than retribution directed at FEA and other labor organizations for using our democratic right to support or oppose legislation in Florida, particularly last year’s SB 6,” said FEA President Andy Ford in a statement. “Of course, we will oppose this measure, which is aimed at silencing our members and punishing them for opposing proposals supported by legislative leaders.”

Payroll deduction for dues membership is negotiated through a local school board’s collective bargaining process and many school districts have been doing so since the 1970s. Despite the collective bargaining process, Thrasher said he still doesn’t believe that there is enough choice for employees.

“I think this would give them a choice,” he said. “I don’t think it is now.”

The unions remain one of the last bastions of Democratic power in the state of Florida, pouring money into Democratic candidates’ campaign coffers. They strongly supported Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, who lost to Gov. Rick Scott in a razor-thin election in which other Republican candidates rolled easily to victory.

Unions have also been able – at least when they had a sometime ally in Crist – to effectively rally their members over controversial legislation, such as Thrasher’s bill, even though many of their members are not Democrats.

Under the bill filed by Thrasher, who recently finished a term as chair of the Republican Party of Florida, unions would not be able to use member dues for political purposes, such as campaign contributions, unless they receive written consent from members. A member can also revoke his or her consent at any time.

Thrasher’s bill is just one of many legislative attempts around the country to revamp union laws.

Across the Midwest many governors have publicly been at war with unions, which are losing strength in numbers. According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, in 2010, 11.9 percent of workers were union members. In 1983, the first year for which comparable data is available, that number was at 20.1 percent.

Thrasher said in an interview with the News Service on Monday that the bill (SB 830) was in no way payback for the ultimate defeat of his merit pay bill last spring.

“If I was doing that, I would have filed it when Charlie Crist was here,” he said.

A spokesman for Senate President Mike Haridopolos said little about the bill’s chances, simply noting in an e-mail that it would receive three committee hearings, like all other pieces of legislation.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/08/2055881/top-state-lawmaker-wants-to-limit.html#ixzz1DP9Ns2Az

John Thrasher strikes again

from Tampa Bay.coms gradebook

by Jeff Solochek

Florida teachers union decries new legislation as ‘retribution’
Florida state Sen. John Thrasher, the Jacksonville Republican who sponsored last year’s Senate Bill 6, filed a bill today that would ban payroll deductions that would be used for political activity, including contributions to candidates and tax-exempt organizations.

Employees would be able to request a refund of union dues used for political activity, unless that employee has specifically authorized such a use of the money. The bill also would prevent public employers from collecting dues of employee organizations from payroll.

The Florida Education Association quickly attacked the legislation.

“These actions are nothing more than retribution directed at FEA and other labor organizations for using our democratic right to support or oppose legislation in Florida, particularly last year’s SB 6,” FEA president Andy Ford said in a release. “Of course, we will oppose this measure, which is aimed at silencing our members and punishing them for opposing proposals supported by legislative leaders.”

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/content/florida-teachers-union-decries-new-legislation-retribution

How do you know a politician is lying? His mouth is moving

John Thrasher said it doesn’t matter that we are fifth in the Education Weeks Quality Counts ratings of states education system, that we should be number one. Though he fails to mention that he wants the state to be number one on the fifth ranked budget.

Don’t think for a second that if we were ranked 20th or 30th or lower he wouldn’t have used it as a further indictment against teachers or if we were ranked first he would have found some other excuse to try and enact his anti-teacher reforms.

But what is even more frustrating is that he and Scott say the system is broken but embrace Jeb Bush the man who is arguably most responsible for where we find our selves. How can they say it is broken and embrace the man who must have broken it?

The answer is this isn’t about education it’s about big business looking to get a piece of the education pie and busting teachers unions. In the eyes of Scott, Thrasher, and Bush teachers can’t win, they must not be allowed to but what these powers-that-be don’t get, is that if teachers lose so to do the states children.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher