Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Crist's cynical veto

Charlie Crist has gone further off the plantation since this editorial by the WSJ, embracing the third-party bid alluded to below...

No doubt it's a naive question, but why do some people get into politics? Is it merely to accumulate power and fame for their own sake, or to actually do something? The questions come to mind in considering the decision this week by Florida's Republican Governor Charlie Crist to veto a landmark education reform in order to help his tottering Senate campaign.

A major challenge to improving public schools is removing ineffective teachers from the classroom, and the problem is exacerbated in Florida by tenure rules that give instructors jobs for life after a mere three years of "satisfactory" evaluations. Tenure is almost never denied—last year, 99.7% of Florida teachers were deemed "satisfactory"—and once it's been granted, bad teachers can't be fired.

The reform would have abolished tenure for new public school teachers, evaluated instructors based on student progress, and rewarded the most effective teachers with better pay. It passed a legislature controlled by Republicans and had the strong support of former Governor Jeb Bush.

Not long ago, Mr. Crist backed the bill himself....The Governor's veto is a betrayal especially of children with learning disabilities and those from low-income families, who are more likely to encounter ineffective teachers under the current system....

Mr. Crist insists that politics played no role in his change of heart, but the reality is that his Senate bid is floundering....Some of Mr. Crist's advisers have been urging him to drop out of the GOP primary before the April 30 deadline and run in November as an independent. He's narrowly ahead of Mr. Rubio, 32% to 30%, in a three-man race including likely Democratic nominee, Congressman Kendrick Meek (24%). Teachers union money and support would be especially helpful to Mr. Crist in a three-way contest, and it's no surprise the National Education Association immediately hailed his veto....


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