Threat to Tenure in Florida May Be Over

After consulting with college presidents, key committee chair says he won't advance bill.
April 11, 2011

A bill to end tenure at Florida's community colleges (and four-year institutions that used to be community colleges) had a quick start, but may now be stalled.

Representative William L. Proctor, a Republican who chairs the House Education Committee, met last week with the presidents of the colleges and -- according to some present -- did not find a single one supporting the legislation.

Proctor could not be reached for comment, but presidents and union officials who have been opposing the bill report that Proctor said that, based on his discussion with the presidents, he would not advance the bill. The House K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee passed the bill within days of its introduction, following the enactment of legislation that largely ends tenure in the state's elementary and secondary schools.

The presidents' opposition to the bill contradicted the statements of some Republicans, who said earlier that they were pushing the legislation at the behest of the presidents. Dean Cannon, the speaker of the House, said after the bill about school tenure was passed that he had heard interest from community college presidents in applying the idea to their institutions, and that he believed the idea had "merit."

Representative Erik Fresen, a Republican who chairs the K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee and who pushed the legislation, has said it is needed to give colleges flexibility to respond quickly to changes in student interest.

Ed Mitchell, executive director of the United Faculty of Florida (the statewide faculty union and an affiliate of both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association), said he was encouraged by the latest developments. But he noted that legislation "isn't dead until the Legislature leaves town."


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