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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

More views on Gov. Rick Scott's teacher pay proposal




That's Tribune Media Services cartoonist Chan Lowe's view of Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to give all full-time classroom teachers in Florida public schools a $2,500 raise. The proposal, which still would require approval by both the state House and Senate, and then go through local school board negotiations, has drawn a variety of opinions since Scott's announcement.

Scott also put out an FAQ sheet on his recommendation. It notes that the money would be for classroom teachers only, with provisions to make the pay recurring and not a bonus. He adds that he will include money for raises for other employees in a separate education funding proposal. Scott will appear at Twin Lakes Elementary in Tampa today at 3:30 p.m. to talk more about his proposal.

FEA president Andy Ford issued a statement calling the proposal a step in the right direction, but not enough. “A $2,500 increase in pay would certainly be welcome, but it’s important to put it in its proper context,” Ford said. “Teachers and other school workers lost 3 percent of their salary in 2011 and saw another 2 percent disappear when Social Security and Medicare tax breaks expired earlier this month. But this is a step in the right direction because investing in public schools and the people who work in them is the way to create the workforce of the future.”

House Speaker Will Weatherford questioned whether an across-the-board raise violated the state's move toward performance pay. That prompted Scott to issue new statements defending his idea. 

“Right now, what I’m focused on is the fact that our teachers have done a great job,” Scott said Wednesday at the Capitol. “Look at the quality of our education system, look at how hard they’re working, look at the test scores. They’re doing a very good job. ... I believe in merit pay, I believe in measurement. I believe in accountability. We’re going to continue to work on that. But right now, the right thing to do is an across-the-board pay raise for all full-time teachers.”

His office then issued a release quoting many leaders — and a couple of teachers — from across the state in support of his recommendation. Among them were Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia and Clearwater High teacher Elizabeth Balcombe. "This is great news for teachers. Educators have faced some very difficult budget years, and still we have had tremendous results in the classroom," Elia is quoted as saying. "That absolutely should be rewarded."

What are you thinking?

[Last modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013 8:56am]


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