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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Time to reconsider Florida's Best and Brightest bonus, State Board vice chair says



For two years, Florida lawmakers have ignored criticism and put millions of dollars into bonuses based, in part, on teachers' college entry exams.

The Best and Brightest program has made it into the state budget, but not into law. That means the Legislature will have to consider the idea again when it reconvenes in 2017, this time with the program's most vocal proponent, Erik Fresen, and opponent, John Legg, both out of office.

Florida Board of Education vice chairman John Padget suggested Wednesday that lawmakers find better use for the money.

"I'm looking for course corrections that make sense," Padget said during a workshop on legislative priorities. "Spending money on a teachers' SAT score of 30 years ago needs to be revisited. Let's ask, what's the bang for the buck with that program?"

He suggested the money could go toward computer science programs, or STEM instruction, perhaps boosting pay of teachers in those fields.

Education commissioner Pam Stewart said her staff will be looking into best ways to attract top teachers into Florida's classrooms. She expected to consider the impact of Best and Brightest on the board's goal of recruiting and retaining those teachers.

"I'm going to actively be gathering information on how that has impacted teachers," Stewart said, adding the results could influence future policy recommendations.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 4:01pm]


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