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Judge Upholds Fla. Merit-Pay Plan

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A Florida judge last week upheld the constitutionality of the state's Master Teacher Program in a suit against the merit-pay plan brought by the Florida Teaching Profession organization.

But officials of the ftp, an affiliate of the National Education Association, immediately announced that they would appeal Judge Charles Miner's decision.

"We will take our challenge to the First District Court of Appeals, because ftp firmly believes that both the Merit Schools Program and the Master Teacher Program are unconstitutional," said Ruth Holmes, president of the ftp "The programs are inequitable, infeasible, and discriminatory," she charged.

Both Gov. Robert Graham, who was instrumental in getting the pay program through the legislature, and Ralph D. Turlington, state commissioner of education, applauded the ruling last week.

"I am pleased that this ruling es-tablished the legality and constitutionality of Florida's program to recognize and reward excellence in teaching," Governor Graham said, adding that "the Master Teacher Program is an important part of Florida's strategy to retain and attract the quality teachers our students need to reach their highest level of academic achievement."

Judge Miner said in his opinion that while both the Master Teacher Program and the Merit Schools Program have not been without difficulty, "the court expresses the view that department of education officials responsible for fleshing out these programs have achieved rather remarkable success in carrying out expressed legislative intent in a short period of time."

Harry Johnston, president of the Senate, said last week, however, that the department should fire the administrators responsible for the recent implementation problems of the Master Teacher Program.--cc

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