Local teachers are concerned about controversial merit pay bill

Tenured teacher stands-up for new teachers

TAMPA - Third-graders at Davis Elementary have a lot to be thankful for. Their teacher has more than 20-years of experience but it's her passion for her profession that's the most impressive.

"Growing up I had a cousin who was severely handicapped and I just loved helping him," said Barbara Haggerty.

Haggerty co-teaches ESE students with exceptional needs like autism and learning disabilities alongside average kids.

"I feel pretty comfortable that I'll have a job next year, but I wouldn't want to be a first-year teacher," she said.

It's her passion that explains why this tenured, veteran teacher, who's already in good standing, would speak out against legislation that would affect new teachers.

"It's going to be hard for them to go out and get a car loan or a home mortgage because they're going to have to tell the bank, well I only have a job this year. I don't know if I'll have it next year," she told ABC Action News.

The Florida Senate passed a controversial teacher ‘Merit Pay’ bill Thursday. If signed into law, new teachers would only get a one-year contract. By 2014, half of a teacher's evaluation would be based on their students' test scores and lay-offs would be based on effectiveness.

"What this bill says is do your hard work because you are going to be recognized for it," said Senator Anitere Flores, Miami (D).

While those who oppose Senate Bill 736 say it'll unfairly tie teacher's pay to their students' test scores, Governor Rick Scott says it'll reward teachers who get results.

"We want teachers to stick around and by making sure we pay the most effective teachers more, we'll do better," he told reporters in Tallahassee Thursday.

Scott has said he'll sign the bill into law if it passes the House next week.

Haggerty expects it will and that new teachers will need a lot of support if and when it does.

"They need somebody to be there for them, to listen to them, to encourage them, to help them, get over those problems that they're going to have that first year."

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