Scott offers math lesson to teachers of the yearby John Kennedy | June 27th, 2013
Rick Scott and Education Commissioner Tony Bennett led a discussion Thursday with ‘teachers of the year’ from around the state, with the Republican governor giving them a lesson in the math of state government.
Scott recalled how he faced deep budget shortfalls his first two years in office, forcing a sharp spending reduction on education in 2011. But as the economy has begun picking up, the past two years he has recommended an increase of more than $2 billion for schools.
Scott quickly pivoted his remarks back to a familiar theme.
“If we can get more employment, we get more people to move here, we’ll have more dollars,” Scott told more than three-dozen teachers gathered at the Capitol. “We do that, we’re going to have more money. And my focus will be on education.”
Much of the exchange between teachers and the state leaders centered on Florida’s move away from FCAT testing toward standards based on a common core curriculum, a new “pathways” law expanding students’ pursuit of job-focused, industrial certifications, and the linking of teacher salaries to student performance.
The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, has sued over a 2011 law that bases half of most teachers’ performance evaluations on student performance. Legislation signed into law this spring by Scott was designed to ease some concerns by requiring that teachers be evaluated only by the work of students they actually instruct.
But the issue remains on the minds of many of those attending Thursday’s session, teachers said.
Maria Aparacio, a physics teacher at West Boca Raton High School who has taught 29 years in Palm Beach County said the teacher evaluation process “is a big worry.”
But she added that Scott and the Legislature’s including $480 million for teacher pay raises in coming months has eased some concerns.
Under the plan, teachers graded “effective” would be eligible for a $2,500 pay raise. Those rated “highly effective” would be eligible for $3,500.
“The pay raises mean a lot,” Aparacio said.