Putting Education Reform To The Test

Merit Pay At The Top Of Florida Teachers’ Concerns

Joe Raedle / Getty News Images

Teachers protest budget cuts and Senate bill 736 -- the law establishing merit pay -- in Miami in 2011.

What if you threw a party, but no one who was invited appreciated your hospitality?

That’s what happened with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently sponsored a teacher town hall meeting as part of the American Graduate project. A group of Hillsborough County teachers boarded a bus to Jacksonville for the event.

The teachers were there to talk about their concerns. But when WUSF reporter Sarah Pusateri gave them an open mic, it was Hillsborough County’s pay-for-performance plan that bugged them most.

You know — the same merit pay plan funded with a $100 million grant from the Gates Foundation. Hillsborough County is in the second year of the three-year project.

Teachers felt merit pay was unfair. The system would not reward the best teachers, they said, just the teachers with the best students.

Listen to Sarah’s story above, and here’s a video she produced from the trip:


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