Best and Brightest debate comes to a head Wednesday in Florida Senate
The debate over whether to extend Florida's controversial teacher bonus based on high school entrance exam results returns to the forefront Wednesday, as the Senate Education Committee presents what could be the most significant hurdle to the initiative.
Republicans and Democrats alike on the panel have questioned the model promulgated by the Florida House, suggesting it has many flaws that might not warrant their support. Senators backed a one-year version of the plan last summer, as a last-minute addition to a budget bill.
At one point, committee vice chairwoman Nancy Detert, R-Venice, called the concept "the worst bill of the year." The Florida Education Association has sued over it, calling the measure discriminatory.
It has since picked up backing from the Governor's Office, and the House is pushing to make the program permanent. But Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, has put forth his own version of the legislation that would change the system enough that it has earned opposition within the House leadership.
Legg's bill comes to Senate Education on Wednesday, and so far no members have made any effort to change it. Just 24 hours before the meeting is to begin, the bill had received no amendments, even after a lively discussion the week before.
Teachers across the state have their eyes on this bill's fate. If it fails in Senate Education, it's likely (thought not necessarily) dead. Generally, if a bill's substance is killed in committee, it cannot be amended to another bill. The House has a different version of Best and Brightest, though, leaving a room for maneuvering if the issue gets that far. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: As can happen, shortly after this post went up, some amendments appeared. Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard proposed three changes, including allowing the awards to go to teachers who receive National Board certification or who have four consecutive evaluations of "highly effective." You can monitor the latest here as the meeting approaches.