"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jeb Bush's Test Score Bonus Pay Debacle

From the Orlando Sentinel:
As appealing as teacher-bonus pay might sound, the idea never had much luster in Florida -- and it's losing what little it had.

Unions hate it. Teachers scorn it. Administrators find it a hassle.

The disdain is so complete that some of those who benefit from the extra money -- teachers and administrators -- are asking lawmakers to ax the program when they meet in special session next month to deal with budget shortfalls.

Even if teacher bonuses survive, legislators and school officials expect that school districts from the Panhandle to Miami will opt out of the newest bonus program.

"I do support performance pay if the teachers and administration and School Board collaboratively develop a plan," said Margaret Smith, superintendent of Volusia County schools, which nixed the bonuses last year. "I do not think this year is the year to spend millions . . . when the state says we may have to lose millions."

In Central Florida, Osceola County already has said no thanks to the money that would reward teachers next year. Orange County, emerging from the error-riddled, controversial program, is expected to steer clear as well.

But legislators love merit pay and are digging in to save former Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to reward top teachers. Cutting the $147.5 million program "would send the wrong message to teachers," said Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka.

He and his colleagues promise to massage it into a bigger, better program. . . .

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