STAR out, MAP in
The Florida House overwhelmingly joined the Senate today in replacing the controversial STAR teacher performance pay plan with the Merit Award Program, or MAP. Several Democrats used the debate to advocate for increased teacher salaries across the board. But they agreed to support the bill as a preferable alternative to the vilified STAR plan. "We have turned the train around and we are heading in a new direction," said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Pembroke Park, who noted he received 2,000 e-mails urging repeal of STAR. Rep. Joe Pickens, chairman of the Schools and Learning Council, said the legislation got rid of the overly prescriptive regulations from the Department of Education and replaced them with more local control, finally creating a long-needed and acceptable system that rewards teachers for their skills rather than their longevity. "Merit pay is something that should have been in place a long time ago," he said. "A fifth-year teacher that does a great job is entitled to more money for doing that great job. ... And the teacher that wants to come in and punch the clock ... will get the pay they deserve." The final vote was 110-4.