Scott said he wants more cash for teacher trainingby John Kennedy | October 9th, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott continued his new-found focus on education Tuesday, announcing that he would seek $2 million from next year’s Legislature to finance a teacher training program.
The effort, which he said evolved from a weeklong “listening tour” he completed last month, would be a matching grant program designed to attract additional dollars from private companies, educational foundations and local school districts.
The Scott administration said that including the matching funds, the goal is to have as much as $6 million available for continuing teacher education.
“We’re acknowledging the importance of our teachers in this state,” Scott told reporters. “All of us know that in our childhood, teachers were the ones who helped us get ahead.”
Scott said the value of good teachers should be an easy sell to legislators and potential matching grant givers.
”They’re teaching and training the future of our state,” Scott said of those working in Florida’s school districts.
A spokesman for the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, said it was too early to react to the Republican governor’s idea, which at this point includes few specifics.
“We have to see what it includes, whether its aimed at some predetermined outcomes,” said Mark Pudlow of FEA. “With anything like this, the devil is in the details.”
Scott spoke Tuesday alongside his Governor’s Office desk, atop sits a small chalkboard which touts, “Over $1 billion in NEW education funding.” The motto represents the amount he and the Legislature increased public school dollars this fall.
Unmentioned, however, is the $1.3 billion cut in school funding that he signed into law last year. Also not addressed is a lawsuit now before the Florida Supreme Court challenging Scott and the Legislature for ordering public employees to contribute 3 percent of their pay to belong to the Florida Retirement System.
School district employees are the bulk of those in the FRS.
Scott, though, has lately gone out of his way to make peace with the education system.
Along with new training dollars, Scott is awaiting a report back this month from a panel of seven school superintendents charged with ferreting out red tape that inhibits classroom teachers. Scott also has echoed the frustration of many parents and educators by criticizing Florida’s dependence on testing as a means of evaluating students, instructors and schools.
Scott last month invited FEA leaders to the Governor’s Mansion for the first time since he took office in January 2011.. He emerged promising to at least maintain current school spending next year. He later suggested the funding level could be increased.