The Crist Files: Charlie Crist and teacher tenure

Just days before leaving the Republican Party and becoming an Independent (though still a self-proclaimed Jeb Bush conservative at the time) Governor Charlie Crist vetoed a dangerous teacher tenure bill. This one action seemed to cement the loyalty of Florida’s Teachers Unions to him, leading to a stunning split-endorsement between Crist and US Rep. Kendrick Meek,  who had been perhaps the state’s most vocal  elected advocate for teachers, students and parents in the 2010 US Senate race.

Given this backdrop one would think Crist had been a strong supporter of teacher tenure throughout his long career. Evidently not the research finds.  In 1997, Crist voted in favor of the amended version of a bill that made it easier to fire tenured teachers. The Palm Beach Post wrote of the controversial bill, “It would shorten from two or more years to 120 days the time needed for a school district to get rid of an incompetent teacher.”   (SB 340Florida Senate Journal, 5/2/1997, Page 1821, 3/6/1997, Page 124; Palm Beach Post, 3/6/1997).

Some other highlights of Crist on this issue:

Crist Voted to Make Firing Teachers Easier and Against Tenure.  In 1997, Crist voted against an amendment that ensured that teachers with at least three years experience could be removed only for ‘just cause,‘ a move that would give less discretion to school boards, according to the St. Petersburg Times.  a compromise on the issue of teacher tenure.  13 Republicans, including Senate President Jennings, joined 15 Democrats in favor of the amendment, according to the report.  [Amendment 10 to SB 340, Passed 28-12, 3/5/1997, Page 110; St. Petersburg Times, 3/6/1997]

Crist Wanted to End Tenure for College Professors.  In 2001, the St. Petersburg Times reported that, “In an interview with the Gainesville Sun, Crist said it might be time to review the use of tenure for university faculty, an academic tradition designed to protect theability of professors to do controversial work, or make controversial statements, without fear of being censored or fired. Crist suggested increased pay would be a better method of rewarding professors than lifetime employment.”  [St. Petersburg Times, 4/19/2001]

Crist Voted For The Legislature To Determine The Total Number Of Tenureships Available For Award Each Year.  In 1993, Crist voted for SB 1706 – Faculty tenureships in the Education Committee. The bill provided for Legislature to determine total number of faculty tenureships available for award each year.  The bill passed 6-3.  [Florida Senate Education Committee, SB 1706, 1993]

Crist Voted to Require that Some of Teacher Pay be Based on Merit. Crist voted for SB 342, that required superintendents recommend and school boards set up pay schedules basing a portion of teachers’ salaries on performance.  [Florida Senate Journal, 3/6/1997, Page 123]

Crist Wanted Test Scores Linked to Individual Teachers.  According to a 2001 South Florida Sun-Sentinel story, Crist circulated a memo in February 2001 requesting that all Florida school districts prepare lists linking math, reading and writing teachers to individual student scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT).  Teachers unions and school districts criticized the memo.  Compiling the lists, they said, would hurt teacher morale.  [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/25/2001]


  1. Why are you do focused on so many negative articles about Charlie Crist? Is it because Republicans know that Gov Scott has a much better chance of winning against Nan Rich, than Crist? The pols seem to indicate that. I understand that Rich is a long time Democrat. However, can she win against Gov Scott and his millions?


  2. I’ll take passion and democratic values over money. However when Nan wins the primary the money will be flowing her way faster than a Charlie flip flop.


  3. Complacency shouldn’t be included in teacher tenure, however, we would like to conclude that
    the vast majority of tenured teachers are worthy of that status…..and that lengthy years
    of tax payers money to remove someone who isn’t meeting the proper standards doesn’t
    make sense. Unfortunately, linking the FCAT program to Teachers performances was wrong, since the FCAT didn’t provide for the best interest of both the students or teachers. Hopefully,
    the Common Core System isn’t similar to the FCAT standards that resembles conformity and embraced because Stimulus money was attached…..


  4. Patti Lynn · ·

    Florida voters have the chance, in this primary election, to break the stranglehold that the “Good Ol’ Boy” network has on Florida politics. Black voters, Hispanics, and Women have a chance to elect a Democrat whose FIRST priority is the people of Florida. That would be NAN RICH. Women, Blacks, & Hispanics have been ill treated by the Florida Legislature over many, many years. Kendrick Meek’s campaign was undermined by Charlie Crist’s ambition. Did Crist care that Meek had served Florida well in Congress? Did Crist think about anything other than what HE wanted??? Time to get smart. Democrats will vote for the Democratic nominee. Broward County can carry the State. NAN RICH for Governor. It’s time to CHANGE the political process in Florida.


  5. […] Despite a record that is contrary to the interests of many liberals on school “choice”, teacher tenure, growth management, and reproductive rights an acceptance of the former Governor as the presumptive […]


  6. […] endorsement based on Crist’s previous record on issues related to public education and teacher tenure. The union endorsement is arguably the biggest catch yet for Crist though many viewed the […]


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