Charlie Crist on Education
"The teachers' unions aren't exactly friends of ours," I was reminded more than once. "Republicans are more interested in private and religious schools."
None of this seemed complicated to me. If we wanted good teachers, we should pay them decently. When it came to public education, I had the benefit of personal experience. My 3 sisters and I all went to public schools. Two of my sisters became educators. My mom and dad both went to Penn State. I'd finished college at Florida State. I always have--and always will--fight for public education.
The Republican legislators probably should have renamed it the Teacher Punishment Act. That would have been a whole lot closer to what the bill's conservative backers really had in mind.
Newer teachers could be fired for any cause or no cause at all. Local school systems were forbidden from paying teachers based on their experience or advanced degrees. The bill took away a teacher's incentive to earn National Board Certification. And it raised a rash of extra complications for Special-Ed teachers.
There was one other wrinkle that seemed relevant to me. The people who really stood to make out here were the for-profit, national testing firms. If Senate Bill 6 became law, they could expect some fat new Florida contracts.
Of course, it is not easy to establish merit pay and abolish tenure. Take Florida, where the legislature passed both reforms but they fell victim to Gov. Charlie Christ's political ambitions. Having changed his political affiliation to Independent from Republican, he vetoed the bill as part of his strategy of moving leftward to try to win a Senate seat in 2010. But at the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves, who loses when we don't educate our children? Everyone.
His leadership qualities carried into other pursuits. He was the starting quarterback in high school and played at Wake Forest University before transferring and receiving his undergraduate degree from Florida State in 1978. Charlie then earned his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
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