Update: Crist vetoed the bill.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist is sinking rapidly among Republicans. Nonetheless, Crist enjoys significant support among Democrats and Independents. In fact, a recent Quinnipiac poll shows that Crist would win the general election for the senate if he runs as an Independent. Currently, Crist looks like a sure loser in the Republican primary.
Republicans are angry that Crist embraced the stimulus package -- which did a lot more to help public schools in Florida than the misguided merit pay legislation SB 6. The legislation would tie teacher salaries and recertification to student performance on a host of standardized -- yet undeveloped -- tests. Teachers overwhelmingly oppose the legislation. Even award-winning teachers who stand to gain from the measure have condemned it.
The measure would likely make low performing "poverty schools" even less attractive to talented teachers because it would exacerbate existing pay inequities and job insecurity. But lawmakers apparently do not mind playing political football with something as vital as education. Teachers should face quality evaluations, but standardized testing is woefully inadequate in this regard.
Hopefully, Crist will give up the dream of being the moderate Republican Senator from Florida and run as an Independent. Apparently, the Florida Republican base is a site of major Tea Party activity. The general population in Florida, however, is not as spellbound by the movement.
If Crist vetoes the legislation, he will further anger Republican voters, but he will potentially generate even more appeal among Democrats and Independents -- who disfavor the legislation. Vetoing the legislation would also be consistent with the numerous other ways in which Crist has been a true Republican maverick. Will he do it?
The Palm Beach Post has an insightful editorial on this subject. See: Crist has no weasel room: On merit pay, it has to be all or nothing
Update: This article has been edited to reflect the fact that the legislation would also base recertification upon student performance on standardized tests.