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Rhee endorses teacher merit pay bill

Michelle Rhee

By Lynn Hatter

Tallahassee, FL – Lawmakers are reviving a proposal that would tie teacher salaries to student test scores. It's called the "Race to the Top for Student Success Act" and is informally known as "Son of Six," after last year's failed proposal. As Lynn Hatter reports, Wednesday lawmakers heard from Governor Rick Scott's education advisor Michelle Rhee, the former Chancellor of the Washington D.C. school system who caught national headlines for firing teachers and closing failing schools.

Rhee heads the organization Students First- which is aimed at raising the bar for teachers, and getting bad ones out of public school classrooms. She's endorsing the Senate's merit pay proposal, which would end the practice of tenure, tie teacher pay to student test scores and pay stronger teachers more money. But Rhee also cautions lawmakers to keep teachers involved.

"If you'd like to learn from one of the mistakes I made, make it as clear as possible that you are not out to get teachers when you talk about and make policies about and create policies around how great their influence is."

Rhee said she made a mistake in communication when she fired the teachers in Washington D.C., but also stands by the decision. In the discussion about teacher quality in the classroom, teachers and their unions have been portrayed in documentaries and news stories as a cause of public school failures.