Friday, April 16, 2021
Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran,
My name is Don Peace, and I am the President of the United School Employees of Pasco. I am not speaking to you today regarding USEP but am representing teachers across this great State. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the Executive Order recently sent out by the Commissioner. We applaud the effort to provide options to allow graduation waivers to seniors, third graders to be promoted with cause, and flexibility for Districts on promotion, retention, and scholarship eligibility. These are all positive steps in moving forward toward a post-COVID environment.
It is, though, puzzling to me why the same considerations were not extended to our teachers. If this is truly “The Year of the Teacher”, why would we not recognize all the hard work, dedication, time, and effort these professionals have put in during this COVID-filled school year?
There has been much stated and documented publicly about student learning during this years’ environment. It has been difficult for our educators to deliver instruction and get the same degree of interaction with students, many of whom were online or have been online and since returned to brick and mortar. Many students have also had learning interrupted due to quarantines and were back and forth between face-to-face and online.
Due to that fact, it seems to me that the prudent thing to do for these teachers who have extended themselves countless times on behalf of their students, the grace and compassion to hold them harmless from student test scores from the 2020-2021 school year.
We can certainly agree that testing should be done to evaluate where our students are at and to make recommendations moving forward on how to remedy the progress that has been delayed or lost. However, it is not right to excuse everyone else but hold teachers accountable for the numerous situations over which they have no control.
Please consider a remedy for this situation, either by Executive Order or by asking Legislators to prioritize one of the bills which hold the teacher evaluation harmless from student test scores for this year.
We hold up Florida as an example to the rest of the country on how schools should be run, and together we have accomplished a lot during a pandemic. What I am asking is that we consider ALL the players in the game and treat them equally. Thank you both for your consideration on this matter.
Don Peace, President
United School Employees of Pasco