Crist vetoes teacher merit pay bill

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

ROYAL PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Being a parent of two students at Royal Palm Beach Elementary, Debbie Dyer knows how unfair it could be if teacher salaries were based on student's performance.

"My oldest is an advanced student and my youngest is struggling, yet, I know, her teachers are trying to help her. There's no reason based on her performance that teachers shouldn't get payed as much," she said.

It seems like that rationale has won -- for now.

Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the controversial Senate Bill 6 Thursday. SB 6 would have gotten rid of seniority and linked as much as half of teacher's pay to student test scores.

The Governor got slammed with thousands of e-mails and protests around the state prior to his decision.

After announcing his veto, Crist was immediately on the defensive. "To proponents of the bill, the governor's veto may be mis-characterized as ill-informed or political."

Political insiders say Crist, who is trailing Republican opponent Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate seat, may run as an independent and the veto was a stunt to woo Democratic voters.

"I'm a little skeptical on his motives, but, in the end, the governor's veto will help us," said second grade teacher Debra Wilhelm.

Wilhelm, along with other Royal Palm Beach Elementary teachers, wore red Thursday in protest of the bill and then jumped for joy when they heard the Governor's decision.

Political stunt or not -- some educators are calling him a savior. "The governor is known for being a good looking guy, but he never looked better than today," said Classroom Teacher's Association President Robert Dow.