Gov. Rick Scott sticks with teacher raise message, notes bargaining will be needed
In less than an hour Monday with the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board, Gov. Rick Scott repeatedly stressed that his proposed $2,500 raise for all classroom teachers is one of his top priorities.
The governor offered recent indicators as bolstering his rationale: Florida’s No. 6 ranking in Education Week’s Quality Counts report card, its impressive showing in fourth-grade reading and its No. 1 ranking in teacher effectiveness by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
Asked how he thought the Legislature would respond, he noted that Senate leaders Don Gaetz, Joe Negron and Bill Galvano all have expressed support for the idea on some level. Gaetz is Senate president, Negron chairs the Appropriations Committee and Galvano chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
“They’ve put the $480-million in the Senate budget, so I’m optimistic the House will do the same thing, the right thing,” Scott said. “Our teachers are doing a good job, our system’s doing better all the time. We got rid of teacher tenure so our principals can keep the best teachers. We’re doing the right things. We’re going to Common Core, we have merit pay that’s coming in.”
Responding to a question about how the raise squared with Scott’s past support of merit-based pay: “But there is (pay based on merit). Look at all the data. I like data. We have merit pay that’s going to be starting as we move into Common Core. We’re No. 6 for education quality according to Education Week. AP scores are doing well.”
Does that mean his argument is that Florida should raise the bottom when it comes to teacher pay?
“Yeah,” he said. “The principals know that they’re going to keep the most effective teachers. They have that opportunity.”
He said he has been in a lot of schools since he came into office.
“These teachers are working hard. They’re doing the right thing. We’re still going to have merit pay, but it’ll start as we have the evaluation system. Now the other thing I asked (Education Commissioner) Tony Bennett to do when he first came in is to focus in on making sure that evaluation systems make sense for everybody," Scott said. “When I was in business I set up measurement systems for employees. The goal is you ought to know how you’re being measured. Because I haven’t met many people who didn’t want to succeed. So tell me how I’m going to be measured. Make sure it’s something I can have an impact on.”
He was questioned about problems with the evaluation system so far.
“There’s things we need to fix on that,” he said. “And Tony (Bennett), along with a lot of superintendents are focused on that. And the Board of Education. We get a lot of feedback.”
Scott was asked how he sees the $2,500 being distributed.
“My understanding of the way it works (is) … My proposal is $1.25-billion. You put it in there and it’s a line item that goes to that compensation. So I believe that if they do it that way the money will go in that direction (toward across-the-board raises) because the school districts will want to do it and the teachers will want it to happen. But it actually goes to a line item for teachers, so in theory it’s still got to go through the school districts, it’s got to still go through collective bargaining.”