Time to have some fun with the 2020 version of the annual train wreck known as the Florida Legislative Session. WTF?

Grumpy Old Teacher found this pad today as he was cleaning up his work area at home. No, he would never dare to use it for feedback on student work. But, perhaps hilariously, it will work for commentary on the various education bills that make their way out of the 2020 Florida legislative session for the governor’s signature.

Jose Oliva, WTF did you mean by that amendment that would make a school board’s collective bargaining agreements with local teachers’ unions subject to approval by the Department of Education? Explain.

GOT gets it. He really does. The legislature intends to designate half a billion dollars for teacher salaries and it wants to be sure that money actually goes into teachers’ paychecks. After all, in the land of ‘shall’ means ‘may,’ one can never be sure that the minions get the memo about fidelity to purpose, a scenario that Florida’s legislators are well aware of since they have frustrated the restoration of voting rights to Florida’s ex-convicts, thwarted the class-size amendment that voters have approved three times, and diverted funding for the purchase of land conservation to the administrative budgets of agencies.

What do you do when you want to be sure that designated funds go to designated purposes?

Look, the concern of the legislature is real. More than anyone, they know they have also passed a requirement that school boards find an extra $233 million to make up for pension funding shortfalls, something they also created when they decided teachers should contribute 3% of their salary to their pension because school boards promptly said, “Thank you very much,” and reduced their contribution by the same amount, which was not intended by the state.

They know the optics would be bad if school boards, in a ‘shall’ means ‘may’ moment, declared that teacher pensions are part of compensation and so, in a way, if they use the funding for salary increases to undergird pension funding, that might count as salary.

They have to be sure. Thus, they want to put FLDOE’s Richard the III (“A charter school! A charter school! My state’s school districts for a charter school!”) in charge of making sure that salary dollars wind up in salaries.

A just concern, my lieges. But one subject to mischief as the fulfillment of the intended purpose still rides upon the integrity and good will of the designated authority. What if, in a moment of pillow talk, Richard’s wife expresses a concern that she wants that money to enhance staff compensation at the charter school she runs?

It’s a dangerous business to ignore the will of the governed. Or, in this case, the will of teachers who have said over and over: put the money in the base student allocation and let us bargain with our school boards.

That’s a solution too simple and elegant for the men and women who warm the seats in the Capitol buildings’ chambers.

WTF? Seriously, WTF? You are giving the Commissioner of Education veto power over collective bargaining in the state? What were you thinking? And is it constitutional?

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