Back at the end of January, Gov. Rick Scott made teachers a top priority in his budget recommendations to the Legislature for next year.
But his proposals aren’t getting much traction, now that lawmakers are delving into the nitty-gritty of their own ideas.
Scott’s recommendation for $58 million in teacher incentives in 2017-18 essentially called for eliminating the controversial “Best & Brightest” program that’s been around for two years. In its place, Scott called for a handful of different kinds of incentives, including recruiting Bright Futures scholars to become teachers and eliminating teacher certification fees.
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But both the House and Senate don’t want to scrap “Best & Brightest,” they want to expand it — significantly — and they want to flood the program with as much as $250 million, five times more than this year.
Each chamber released its own proposal last week wanting to ensure more teachers, and now principals, could qualify for a bonus going forward.
But one of the only visible inclusions of anything Scott suggested is a variation of his proposed one-time hiring bonus, which is in the Senate plan. The House proposal doesn’t seem to include anything from the governor’s recommendation.
“The governor had his own version of a teacher incentive program. I think the problem with that is it broke it up in to so many different silos, it may not have a larger effect,” said state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., a Hialeah Republican who is the House pre-K-12 education budget chairman and who is shepherding the House measure.
“What we’re trying to do is: We know we’re facing a (teacher) shortage, we have to address it,” Diaz told members of the House Education Committee on Friday. “I believe it’s really our role to make sure we push forward and to put things in place that would help our state address this.”