Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Bonus Idea Puts Lawmakers into Action

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Bonus Idea Puts Lawmakers into Action

Article excerpt

If you like hardball politics and don't want to drive to

Tallahassee to watch the Florida Legislature, wait awhile and

head to a local elementary, middle or high school.

That's where the real action could be, depending on what

direction the Legislature takes on bills designed to boost the

pay of the state's best teachers.

Right now, lawmakers are considering two distinctly different

approaches to selecting and rewarding the best teachers as a way

to keep them in the classroom.

One, by Sen. Jim Horne, R-Orange Park, calls for rigorous

testing and evaluation by an independent national board. The

other, by Rep. Bill Sublette, R-Orlando, relies on nominations

by teachers and parents.

The state's two major teacher unions support Horne's bill,

though some teachers favor Sublette's approach. Critics,

however, say Sublette's Florida Outstanding Teacher Program

relies more on politics than good teaching.

That program would establish a merit program to pay the most

effective 10 percent of teachers in each school a $2,000 bonus.

Teachers would be selected to receive the awards each year by

two independent panels, one comprised of teachers and the other

comprised of parents who serve on the school advisory committee.

A teacher would have to be nominated by both committees, as

well as gain the support of the school principal to be

considered for the award.

At a recent meeting of Duval County educators in Tallahassee to

lobby for education, Duval Teachers United representative Terrie

Brady said the program would favor popular teachers over

effective ones and easy graders over tough ones.

Grace Northrop, a teacher's union representative from Alachua

County, said she supports Horne's measure because it puts the

emphasis on teaching, not popularity. …

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