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Education

Scott Calls For Teacher Pay Raises

Full-time Florida public school teachers could see their incomes rise later this year if Governor Rick Scott gets his way. The Governor is proposing a $2,500 dollar pay raise, but it has to make it through the legislature first.

Governor Scott’s across-the-board teacher pay raise would cost the state about $480 million. Scott, who strongly supported a bill passed two years ago tying teacher pay raises to student performance, says he still believes in merit pay, but also thinks the right thing to do now is give teachers a salary boost:

“Right now I’m focused on the fact that teachers have done a great job. Look at the quality of our education system, look at how hard they’re working, look at the test scores, they’re doing a great job,”  Scott told reporters Wednesday.

Senate President Don Gaetz was asked about Scott’s education positions Wednesday, and whether the Governor’s embrace of issues like teacher pay are a political move. Gaetz says he supports Scott’s position on teacher pay raises.

“Governor Scott has a daughter who is a teacher. And her teaching background is in students who are hard to deal with, those who have disabilities. I think he comes at he’s feelings on education honestly. I think the governor wants to do the right thing,” he said.

During the Governor’s first year in office, he oversaw the passage of the teacher merit pay law and a new evaluation system which judged teachers according to how well their students performed in meeting state expectations. Scott also championed a law abolishing tenure for new teachers in addition to a billion dollar cut in education. But last year, Scott urged lawmakers to put the money back. And he’s been reaching out to teachers and their unions to get feedback on the state’s botched rollout of new evaluations and ways to help schools improve.

“We’re starting from behind so this is a good step. It is in the right direction. I applaud the Governor for recognizing that we have to invest in schools  and the people who work in them in order to create the workforce this state needs for the future,” said Andy Ford, President of the Florida Education Association.

Ford says it’s been years since many Florida teachers saw any kind of salary increase and most have seen their paychecks decrease, courtesy of new requirements for pension contributions along with the expiration of federal payroll tax breaks. But Scott’s proposed teacher raises could also face some challenges in the House. Speaker Will Weatherford told the Miami Herald he’s more supportive of a pay raise tied to teacher performance, except, the state never funded the “merit pay” part of the law.