Thursday, November 23, 2017
Education

Gov. Rick Scott rallies teachers in 'pay raise victory tour'

RECOMMENDED READING


It may have escaped your attention, but Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign began in earnest Monday.

The official title: Teacher Pay Raise Victory Tour.

The first stop was Piper High in Sunrise, in the heart of Broward, the biggest Democratic county in Florida. The school rolled out the red carpet for Scott with a performance by its proud marching band.

"What a great school, and what a great band!" Scott told an auditorium filled with cheering students.

From there, Scott headed to an elementary school in West Palm Beach, followed by a visit to one of his favorite schools, Nease High in Ponte Vedra Beach. That's the alma mater of quarterback Tim Tebow, recipient of a "Great Floridian" award from Scott just days before the New York Jets released him.

At all three schools, Scott repeated a simple message: Teachers in Florida are great and they deserve a $2,500 pay raise. He'll hammer home the theme in Tampa on Friday.

Scott is disciplined and always on point. With the support of his improved communications shop, this is the core of his strategy: Reward teachers and hope they see him as a champion of education.

It's a challenge for Scott, because in his first year as governor he proposed a big cut in school spending, then made teachers contribute 3 percent of their pay toward their pensions. After a statewide school listening tour, he changed his tune.

As Florida's improving economy generated billions in new tax revenue, Scott first called for the across-the-board teacher pay raise on Jan. 23. The Legislature agreed to spend $480 million after attaching the raises to pay-for-performance plans, making the bigger paychecks subject to negotiations between union locals and school boards.

Here's where Scott's promise of a $2,500 raise is not only premature, but misleading, in the view of Kim Black, president of the Pinellas County Teachers Association.

"There are so many details yet to be released," she said, "and false information is not in the best interests of the people."

Teacher pay scales are negotiated in percentage increases known as steps, not in round numbers. Black said a step increase in Pinellas equates to a raise of 1.5 percent, or from $500 to $700 per teacher per year.

Black said Scott's "talking point" of a precise $2,500 pay increase for every teacher probably won't work out that way in reality.

"I would say teachers are fed up with being used as political pawns," Black said. "Teachers are very cautious and skeptical."

Scott is a Republican, and teachers unions are a bulwark of the Democratic Party. As for individual teachers, they are Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Yes, they will take the pay raises Scott pushed lawmakers to approve.

But whether that translates into supporting Scott is another question.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida’s campus — but will remain a student, university officials said.Ken Parker, a 37-year-old Navy veteran who once served as the grand dragon, or highest-ranking leader, of the Ku Klu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco schools brought home 20 top honors from the District 11 Junior Thespian Festival, which included 22 schools from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties and took place at the new River Ridge FAME Academy on Nov. 17 and ...
Published: 11/22/17
A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

LAND O’LAKES — Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco sat together several times in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving break, trading contract proposals amid (mostly) amicable conversation.They c...
Published: 11/22/17
Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

The thousands of students who signed up for Rita Osborn’s music and humanities classes at St. Petersburg Junior College knew what they had to do to pass.They could study and memorize material for tests, but they wouldn’t earn more than a C if they di...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
USF professors honored as AAAS Fellows

USF professors honored as AAAS Fellows

Six University of South Florida professors whose research efforts span biology, engineering, chemistry and business have been selected as Fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the organization announced Nov. 20.Election ...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Wiseman’s cell phone rings at least once a week, usually after 9 p.m., with a call from a desperate parent. The voice on the line is tired, defeated. Once again, their child was excluded from an after-school program or summer ca...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

University of Central Florida suspends sorority for hazing

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A University of Central Florida sorority has been suspended after its members were accused of hazing, underage drinking and providing false information to law enforcement.The university placed Alpha Xi Delta on an interim suspens...
Published: 11/21/17
10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

Associated PressThe latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African-Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before. The Rhodes Tr...
Published: 11/19/17

Class notes

School Calendar• Nov. 27: School resumes after Thanksgiving break• Dec. 22: End of second grading quarter.• Dec. 23-Jan. 7: Winter Break.• Jan. 8: Teacher planning day. No school for students.Arts/Music/TheaterCenter for the Arts at River Ridge Middl...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County’s 2018 Outstanding Senior.Commander of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, Beckman is also an Eagle Scout mentor, National Honor Society president and swim team captain.Beckm...
Published: 11/22/17