As Florida Governor Rick Scott works to shore up support from education officials for his proposal on teacher pay raises, he may need to answer some questions from lawmakers who have final say on the action.
“Should there be a performance criteria?” asked State Senator John Thrasher.
Thrasher, a longtime education advocate who serves on the Education Appropriations subcommittee in Tallahassee, told me the biggest outstanding question for lawmakers ahead of the legislative session is why all teachers should receive the same reward for hard work.
“A really good teacher who has got great reviews, you know excellent reviews, could maybe get more than the $2500 maybe. Those that aren’t as good maybe not quite get as much,” he says.
Right now, the Governor is asking for a $2500 pay raise for all classroom teachers. That is funded through the $1.25 billion larger education budget he has proposed this year, with $480 million for the raises. He sent a letter to the State Board of Education, which was presented today, that breaks down his reasons for the raise.
Thrasher says lawmakers have shown a lot of support for that plan, but the blanket raise is something they will “seriously” look at.
“Teachers who are doing a great job deserve to be compensated appropriately.”
A 2011 Republican-backed law which tied overall teacher pay to performance indicators like student testing is facing legal challenges right now.
The other remaining question is what happens with the money if, through collective bargaining, the entire $2500 is not given to the teachers. Many of you had voiced concern this money would be free to use by the district, which would in turn lobby against the raises in order to get discretionary money. Thrasher says the answer to that is still unclear, although during a prior interview he mentioned there would likely be some rule that brings the money back to the state to discourage that type of lobbying.