Leave it to the Florida Legislature to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day a week early by taking back Governor Rick Scott’s $2500 across the board raise for teachers.  OK, so maybe it was a token re-gift of a raise since the Governor was just giving back the 3% he stole from state workers’ salaries the year before. But I’ll take Rick Scott’s cheap gesture of a raise over the Legislature’s merit pay lump of coal any day.  You know when Republican lawmakers are celebrating a teacher raise plan while school teachers are sobbing into their sand paper grade classroom tissue supply, there’s a catch.

“After the Florida legislature reached its original budget plan earlier this week, Governor Scott wrote on his Facebook page that he was “proud to announce that every Florida teacher gets a pay raise.” However, under the revised agreement, that is not necessarily true. The Miami Herald reports that whether or not a teacher will get a pay raise will be determined by a merit-based system set up by individual school boards.

Lawmakers have suggested that teachers deemed “effective” by their school districts should receive a salary increase of at least $2,000. They recommend to school districts that teachers deemed “highly effective” receive raises of up to $3,500, according to the Orlando Sentinel. In addition to teachers, other school employees — such as principals and guidance counselors — are also eligible for the raises.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/florida-teacher-pay-raise-revised-buget_n_3

 

Just in case any South Florida teachers still had their hopes up of actually seeing a $2500 raise, the superintendents of Dade and Broward County decided to immediately hold a press conference to jointly piss in their teachers’ generic brand Cheerios http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21010505570649/school-superintendents-protest-fla-teacher-pay-raise-delay/ Miami Dade’s superintendent “did the math” and claims that the money allocated will be “woefully short” of giving every teacher a $2500 raise. Not to be outdone by Dade County’s dismal forecast, Broward’s superintendent added his own cloud of doom by comparing the funds to a turkey when too many people show up to eat:

“Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie said it’s a good thing the raises can be given sooner, but he warned teachers not to expect the $2,500 and $3,500 raises being mentioned in Tallahassee. “The dollars aren’t going to meet the expectations that have been set,” Runcie said. Besides the other instructional employees the Legislature added into the mix, Runcie said he still doesn’t know if raises for charter school teachers will also have to come out of the $47 million the district expects to receive. “The turkey at the table is only one size,” Runcie said. “The more people come, the less you’re going to get.” http://feaweb.org/todays-news-may-2-2013

Sounds like it’s going to be another $300 raise for Kafkateach.   Although Florida lawmakers seem hopelessly clueless in knowing how to make Florida teachers feel appreciated financially or otherwise, they have demonstrated a certain expertise in creating an epidemic of Florida teacher malaise. 

 

  Here are five Florida ways to make sure teachers feel unappreciated:

  1. Tell them they will only receive a raise if they “merit” it.
  2. By “merit”, tell them the raise will be based not on their job performance, but on their students’ performance on a single 90 minute assessment.
  3. Be sure to emphasize that they are being measured by a “growth” model and if their students do not live up to the predicted performance of an esoteric algorithm with an abbreviation that only rhymes with: SCAM, SHAM, SPAM, and DAMN, they will be deemed “needs improvement” and they will not receive a raise. If they are deemed “needs improvement” two out of three years they will be terminated and their licenses revoked by the state.
  4. If you want to make them feel so unappreciated that they contemplate jumping off the highest causeway in south Florida, tell them their VAM rating will be based on the test scores of students they have never taught or subjects they don’t teach.
  5. Add a special 305 Dade County cherry on the top of this sh*t sundae by giving teachers their VAM score at the end of teacher appreciation week. (Rumor has it that Dade teachers will finally be receiving their evaluations and VAM data from the 2011-12 school year next Friday. Be sure to check back next week when Kafkateach finally gets VAMmed!).

 

That’s enough with the negativity. Let’s now turn our focus on ways to actually make teachers feel valued. Teachers are generally an easy lot to please. Here are five ways to make a teacher feel appreciated next week:

  1. Throw a teacher appreciation luncheon (most schools do this). There’s nothing a teacher loves more than a free lunch. Especially a lunch that lasts longer than 20 minutes and does not include chicken nuggets or tater tots.  Note to administrators: do not turn your teacher appreciation luncheon into a staff meeting or professional development workshop. Most teachers do not appreciate unnecessary meetings and redundant PD.
  2. Have your PTA sponsor a spa day in the teachers’ lounge. Maybe the thought of getting a mani pedi with the sound of the Xerox and scantron machines running in the background doesn’t appeal to you (especially if you happen to be the head football coach). But who doesn’t appreciate a little neck rub to help with the chronic hypertension we’ve developed by having 30 kids at a time scream “Miss, Miss, Miss” seven hours a day?
  3. Have the students write little notes of appreciation to their favorite teachers. Our school does this as a Thanksgiving tradition and I look forward to it every year. They usually make me cry and for a few short minutes I think I have the best job in the world.
  4. If you happen to be a slacker student who gave your teacher a hard time, stop by their classroom and tell them how much you loved their class and how much your learned from them. Nothing gives a teacher more hope than finding out they have helped what they thought was a hopeless cause.  I have a former student who earned a D in my class who comes by my room every day at lunch to tell me he loves me and still misses my class. It helps me face my 8th period class of 25 freshmen boys who enjoy slamming each other’s heads into the wall as a form of amusement (this is not an exaggeration).
  5. Give a teacher a microphone. Teachers need and want to be heard now more than ever. From the nightly teacher bashing sessions on Fox News, to politicians blaming every problem known to mankind on teachers, to staff meetings where teachers are not even allowed to ask questions. Teachers want someone to listen to them, they want people to understand the very real struggles they face in the classroom, they want to be treated like the experts in education that they are instead of being treated like misbehaving students.

In honor of teacher appreciation week, the good people at Save Our Schools are giving several teachers the microphone and Kafkateach is one of them! You can participate in the Save Our Schools teacher appreciation webinar this Sunday at 8 pm by clicking here http://saveourschoolsmarch.org/event/teacher-appreciation-week-save-our-schools-webinar/ I have never participated in a webinar before (I’m not even sure what one is) but my husband tells me it involves a camera.  This means not only will Kafkateach have to stay up past 8 pm, but she will also have to take a shower, do her hair, put some make up on, wear something besides pajamas, and pump some breast milk in advance. If you’ve ever been home on maternity leave with an eight week old baby, you know what a commitment this is. So please join us this Sunday and have a happy teacher appreciation week!

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