Crist flexes on teacher bonuses
So much for optional. And so much for Mr. Nice Guy. Last spring, Gov. Crist backed a performance-pay plan that teachers in every district could accept or reject - the Merit Award Program, better known as MAP. And given MAP's heavy reliance on standardized test scores, it was no surprise the overwhelming majority said no. Under that version of MAP, saying no carried no penalties, and the untouched bonus money went back to the state.
But now, Crist wants to make teachers an offer they can't refuse. Under a proposal outlined in the legislative priorities he issued yesterday, teachers can still say no to MAP, but if they do, their district's share of the bonus pie will be re-allocated to teachers in participating districts. In other words, if 10 districts sign up, their teachers get to split the dough that was supposed to go to all 67 districts. (And just to be clear, we're not talking chump change: Crist wants $120 million for MAP this year.)
Clearly, the teachers union is not happy: "I guess this is where he's going to draw a line in the sand," Florida Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow told The Gradebook today. It's unclear whether lawmakers are lining up, but the Leg's Republican majority has been solidly supportive of merit pay. Said Pudlow: "It's pretty clear that the merit pay direction is the only one that some lawmakers and some political leaders are are going to use to increase salaries, even though we're below the national average."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter