Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a raft of education bills into law Tuesday, including one that makes it harder for teachers’ unions to collect dues and to qualify to represent a bargaining unit.
The governor took the occasion of a bill-signing ceremony at a Miami charter school to blast the teachers’ unions, which have opposed him on numerous policy matters, including whether to keep schools closed to prevent Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic and require mandatory masking.
“These are political organizations that are not looking out for the interests of parents or the interests of students,” DeSantis said.
The bill (SB 256) bars public sector unions, including those for teachers but not for police or firefighters that tend to support the governor, from deducting dues from members’ paychecks, requiring employees to write checks instead. Furthermore, unions’ membership would have to constitute 60% of a bargaining unit, an increase from the old threshold of 50%.
Unions would be subject to state audits and investigations targeting waste, fraud, and abuse.
“They provide authorization forms, blanket authorization for deduction, automatic deduction of dues,” DeSantis said of the old dues-paying process.
“So, even though a lot of teachers don’t do it, many teachers feel pressured to do it. And so, what this bill does is it protects them and says, no automatic deduction for school union dues. If you want to join you can, but you write a check and you hand it over.
“That is going to lead to more take-home pay for teachers because they’re not going to have as many deductions in their paycheck. It’s also something that’s gonna allow the state to look at how many people are joining, and if you don’t have a sufficient number joining then that should not be the bargaining unit if you don’t even represent the majority of people.”
The Florida Education Association decried the move.
“It is painfully ironic that the governor would sign SB 256 during Teacher Appreciation Week. Gov. DeSantis gives a lot of lip service to supporting teachers, but he doesn’t want to hear teachers or staff, pay them what they’re worth, or give them the professional respect that they deserve,” FEA president Andrew Spar said.
“This time, similar to with Disney, we believe that the governor may have let his desire to crush perceived opponents get the best of him. Instead of a big company, however, the target is working people. This new law grossly oversteps in trying to silence teachers, staff, professors, and most other public employees. We will not go quietly — our students and our professions are simply too important,” Spar added.
Another bill the governor signed is HB 477, which reduces term limits for school board members to eight years. The Legislature enacted a 12-year term limit only two years ago. Democrats argued the change is designed to make it easier to remove sitting board members to make way for conservative allies of the governor.
Discipline and order
HB 1035 aims to eliminate duplicate professional training and strengthen teachers’ hand in maintaining classroom order. As DeSantis aides put it in a press release, it gives “teachers the benefit of the doubt when breaking up fights, preventing assaults, and giving teachers the presumption of acting lawfully, acting on behalf of their personal safety, and the safety of their students.”
“Used to be, of course there’d be order in the classroom — nobody would have questioned that. Now, some teachers think if they discipline a student, then somehow they’re going to end up being, people are going to go after them for just keeping order. So, we’re making sure that they have an ability to do that,” the governor said.
The new law creates an avenue for appeal if teachers feel they are directed to take actions contrary to state law and allows them to recover any attorney fees expended in that process. And it provides bonuses, including for retired first responders and military veterans who become teachers and creates an apprenticeship program for would-be teachers without college degrees.
Another measure, HB 1537, extends temporary teaching certificates to five years, instead of the three years allowed now, and extends eligibility to enrollees in state-approved teacher prep programs. Furthermore, it adopts the Classical Learning Test as an alternative to the SAT and ACT exams.
The test has been described as within the “great classical and Christian tradition,” as the Tampa Bay Times has reported. DeSantis beefed with the College Board, which administers the SAT and ACT, earlier this year over what he considered its “woke” advanced-placement course in African American studies.
It establishes “9/11 Heroes’ Day” each Sept. 11 and requires instruction for middle- and high school students on the events of that day.
House Bill 379 allows teachers to confiscate kids’ cellphones during class to discourage social media, which “does more harm than good,” DeSantis said. “We don’t want the kids on the phone the whole time while the teachers are trying to teach.”
Finally, the governor said he intends to approve budget provisos granting a $252 million increase in teacher salaries, for a total of $1 billion.
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
this guy is a danger to everything
The Brat pack.
Every time I comment here ,
I mention that this guy was our neighbor and…….
to this day I don’t understand how he ever became Gov of the state of Florida.
He never spoke to the neighbors and had an attitude that he was above everyone.
Voters…wake up! NO to DeSantis in any election!
He is arrogant and rude and thinks he is better then everyone else. For some on educated from Ivy League Schools he sure doesn’t show it or displays it in public. He will destroy our country if ever elected into the White House just like he is destroying Florida.
If one could see through the political fog of this article and actually read the legislation they would find many protections for students and faculty alike. And, let’s not fail to mention the True North Classical Academy where the Bill was signed touts 95% of students scored at or above proficiency for math and 92% scored at or above for reading. The national average hovers below 50%. Statistics of educational performance by brown and black students in Florida Charter Schools exceeds those of public schools by leaps and bounds. All of the emotional speak in the world can’t change the reality of the data. Can we put our political agendas aside and admit the present system is not working?
“Can we put our political agendas aside and admit the present system is not working?”
Just be careful that your attempt at reason doesn’t insult, impugn, upset, or disagree with DeSantis or any of his cronies.
Let’s not fail to mention that Charter schools and many Academies are not required to follow the same curriculum and testing schedule as public schools. I taught for 35 years in Florida, 15 of those years in the number one district in the state, St. Johns County.
How well do these children that graduate from True North Classical Academy do later in life? Do they all go on to have productive and happy lives? Do they have higher than average incomes? Higher than their parents?
Yes, that data speaks high. However, what percentage of brown and black students attend those particular charter schools. In addition, charter schools do not have to accept every student, while public schools accepts every student especially those with behavior issues and exceptionalities. Charter schools are not held to the same standards as well. So the data is a little skewed or in a sense incomparable. Public schools are so inundated with standards, regulation, and thinks that has to be taught that it almost suppresses learning. This is intended so that individuals in the community say public schools are failing. The majority of the working class people and possibly even you are a product of a public school system.
Do they have to follow the same rules as a public school? Can they reject students or do they have to accept everyone?
Ben Hogarth says
This is what we call “selective data” aka statistical fallacy. In one respect, your accounting of the general national average of math / reading proficiency may or may not be totally accurate, but the conclusions you draw between this cloud-level data point and charter schools in Florida is beyond disingenuous.
For one, the State of Florida maintains one of the highest “failure” rates of Charter School accreditation in the country – (about) ~40%. Public Schools don’t have the luxury of weaving in and out of accreditation. They have to perform. Secondly, a one-off Charter School that you mentioned (True North Classical) is literally one (and among the best) data points being used to ascribe a general conclusion of performance over other charter schools in the state. This false claim in and of itself would be worthy of total rejection and condemnation by statisticians and legislators far and wide.
And my last point (so I don’t waste anymore of my own precious time) is that Charter Schools, unlike public schools, are able to pick and choose their students. How convenient then for them, that their students come from more affable backgrounds (privileged) irrespective of race or creed. How convenient their success rates can be siloed in a controlled environment where they aren’t forced to balance a curriculum and program that reaches ALL students from a diverse array of backgrounds. It’s kind of like how Republicans redistrict (reapportionment) in a manner that allows them to select their voters rather than the other way around.
Children of color who participate in Charter Schools are typically more privileged and come from families with more successful backgrounds than those who do not. This is but one of many fallacies in the statements you made and I can’t help but to wonder what other misrepresentations were made in Tallahassee these past few years by individuals of your mindset.
TLDR: The game is rigged in favor of private entities and the new GOP bills simply seek to siphon public tax dollars away from public institutions to inure to a private benefit.
BMW: Please post where you got your statistics.
I have stated this before, that my granddaughter was constantly at the top of her classes, and excelled in math in a Florida public school. She already had college credits while in high school, and was invited, and went to China twice through her school. When she moved to Washing D.C., she had already learned what they were teaching, and even corrected her math teacher.
I don’t believe your stats.
These are not my statistics, they came from the Florida Department of Education and the National Education Association – do the research as it is all public record. With that said, are you insinuating I made up the data to make a point? I’m certain you are proud of your grandchild, my son is about to graduate from medical school – but, what does that have to do with the contents of this article, the legislation in general or my original comment?
“… my son is about to graduate from medical school …”
Are we to assume he attended public school? Or did he attend a charter school?
Ultimately all these statistics you cite are flawed… the only thing that ultimately matters is the long term outcome. That is, personal income. One would like to measure “happiness” and perhaps “productivity,” but really the only truly measurable metric in this instance is in my opinion future earning potential and actual income earned. Why not do the research on that?
With that in hand one can then really make an informed decision on whether one’s child is better off in a charter school or not. Even the wealthy would like to see if such an investment is really worth it… even if it only translates into a marginal gain in income for their children in their case. Let’s face it, at some point even the rich might throw in the towel and consider public school as an alternative. What’s “marginally” better for a Rockefeller? They could already be making more then anyone could hope to ever make in a lifetime, including their offspring.
With this in mind, one can possibly conclude that there are other, more “social,” reasons for attending a private school… not a hard merit based one.
Just an opinion.
Dennis C Rathsam says
Maybe this will help clean up the mess our board has become!
Yep, we have 1 career political board member left to get rid of.
Dennis and BMW: By having retired military, and first responders teach, without degrees, instead of professional teachers who were educated in the profession? Please look up what a professional teacher needs to become certified. DeSantis wants to put retired military personnel through classes that do not meet the current standard of teaching. That’s nuts.
This is DeSantis doing what Trump does: retaliate against those who do not kiss his ass. He’s a thin skinned little brat who does not belong in a leadership role.
Sarcasm, right? The goobers were endorsed by DeSantis.
He is a bull in a china closet. The more he does is a sure sign he will never ever be President of anything let a lone of the USA.
James: Sadly, people outside of the State of Florida don’t have a clue about DeSantis’ stunts and think he’s great. We need to set them straight.
Right On Laurel! Here in California, the Republicans I’ve met consider DeSantis as a good alternative to trump. They have no idea how DeSantis is rolling out complete fascism across the state. Of course, I do my best to set them straight. . . even sending them links to Flaglerlive. I would love to see much more nationwide reporting on exactly how he destroying democracy in Florida.
I guess he will be known as the ‘great hurry up bill signer’. Still he has done zip for high Home Owners Insurance or the insurance scam on roofs. Where is the bill for that, GOV, oh, maybe there isn’t one. Must be something to do with “in your pocket support”
Meatball is just a mini t-rump but just as dangerous.