Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Teachers Question Why Proposed Pay Raises Come Before Teacher Evaluations

Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida

5th grade teacher Beverley Dowell says she hopes the Governor “isn’t trying to buy teacher votes” when he suggested every full-time teacher in the state get a pay raise before their evaluation results come in.

Most districts won’t start identifying, and potentially removing, low-performing teachers from their schools until next year. But Governor Rick Scott said he wants to give every full-time teacher in the state a pay raise now.

“For a while now we’ve been hearing how bad we are,” said Beverley Dowell, a 5th grade teacher at Treasure Island Elementary School in Miami-Dade. ”[That] we need to weed out bad teachers, there’s so many bad teachers.”

She says it doesn’t make any sense to give teachers more money before those “bad teachers” have even been identified. 

“On one hand you’re cleaning us out of the system, on the other hand you’re going to reward us with $2,500 because according to the Governor we truly deserve it,” Dowell said. “We have to be concerned.”

Some say the governor is trying to court teachers now as his bid for re-election gets closer.

In his first year as governor he cut more than a billion dollars in education spending. And he’s cut teacher salaries by three percent when he required them to contribute to their retirement pensions.

The very first bill he signed into law as governor required all schools to evaluate teacher performance.

But Governor Rick Scott now says teachers deserve the raise. He recently went on an education listening tour and says he heard stories of teachers doing a lot with a little.

“I believe in merit pay, I believe in measurement, I believe in accountability, and we’re going to continue to work on that,” Scott said. “But right now, the right thing to do is an across-the-board pay raise all for full-time teachers.”

The pay raise would cost the state $480 million, but it has to be approved by the legislature first. Even if the legislature approves the pay raise, there’s a chance teachers still won’t see the money. Listen to the full story to find out why. 

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