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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teachers prominent in State of the State



Teachers were given a place of prominence in Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State address today. Scott touted Florida’s public school system, saying that the “tremendous progress” made by students was “in large part” because of teachers.

“Teachers change lives,” Scott said.

He said teachers were the most important (school-based) factor in student learning, and he said lawmakers should invest in teachers by giving them his proposed $2,500 across-the-board pay raise. (That sentiment received a smattering of applause.) He touted increases in state education funding. (Funding that he cut when he was first in office.)

And Scott said the state’s accountability system is working, mentioning fourth grade reading scores that were ranked second in the world.

During the speech, Scott recognized a Tampa teacher and the superintendent of Orange County Schools. He also asked everyone to stand in recognition of that one special teacher who made a difference in their lives.

Andy Ford, president of the state teachers union, put out a statement afterward saying that the union welcomed Scott’s efforts to increase teacher pay “especially in light of the fact that teachers and other school workers were docked 3 percent of their salary in 2011 so that the governor and the Legislature could balance the state budget.” He’s referring, of course, to the state forcing public employees to contribute to their pensions, something that unions called a tax.

Ford also said that teacher pay in Florida is below the national average.

Here’s the section of the State of the State about education:

"Our work to cut spending and live within our means over the last two years has

allowed us to once again invest in education.

The workers of tomorrow are in Florida classrooms today.

When I first stood before you in 2011, I said, “The single most important factor in

student learning is the quality of teaching.”

Since that time, we eliminated teacher tenure. We signed performance pay into

law, and it will take effect in 2014.

Florida’s education system is making tremendous progress, due in large part to

our great teachers and the work begun by Governor Bush and many in this


Our students and teachers were recently ranked sixth for educational quality; and

our fourth-graders scored among the highest in the world on a recent reading


Accountability is working.

The best way we can build on this progress is to reward our hard-working

teachers with a $2,500 pay raise.

Some say they are afraid that giving raises to all teachers may mean that a

teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But, thanks to our work, we are now in a

better position than ever before to reward good teachers and move bad teachers

out of the classroom.

We don’t want a war on teachers; we want a war on failure.

An investment in Florida teachers is an investment in Florida’s future.

Teachers change lives.

Greco Middle School teacher, Elizabeth Heli, is here today from Tampa. Will you

please stand? Elizabeth began her career as an engineer, but decided she

wanted to share her passion for science by teaching it. Please join me in a round

of applause to honor her service.

Orange County School District Superintendent Barbara Jenkins is also here.

Barbara will you please stand so we can honor your commitment to the teachers

in your district and your dedication to student achievement.5

Thank you, Elizabeth and Barbara, for the work you do to help make dreams

come true for the next generation of Floridians.

I want to ask all of you to stop and think of your favorite teacher.

Like me, you all are probably here today thanks to a great teacher who believed

in you. Will you please stand now in honor of that great teacher?

Please join me in a round of applause to honor the teachers represented here -

and every teacher across our state.

In total, our budget increases K-12 education funding by more than $1.2 billion.

This billion dollar commitment builds on our billion dollar investment in K-12

education last year.

Our total education investment of $10.7 billion in state funding for K-12 schools

this year is the highest state funding level in Florida history.

This represents an increase of more than $400 in per student funding over the

current fiscal year.

I am asking for your help to make this historic commitment to education funding a

reality for Florida families."

For more coverage of the State of the State, see The Buzz.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 12:59pm]


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