Educators react to Ron DeSantis' new education program

Published: Feb. 7, 2019 at 10:11 PM EST
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By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

February 7, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Thursday morning, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a new proposal to help the state's teachers.

The proposal asked lawmakers to change a requirement that is part of the "Best and Brightest" program, which uses a teacher's SAT or ACT scores as a way to determine bonuses. Along with that change, the governor is also looking to create a $423 million dollar reward program, enticing individuals to pursue teaching.

Sherica Howard, a teacher in Jefferson County, reacted by saying,

"An ACT score from high school doesn't determine my ability to be a highly effective teacher."

Howard, who didn't take the ACT test in high school, says she's been disadvantaged for so long, adding, "I just never received a bonus, even though I was highly effective. I never received an ACT score, I never qualified."

If Florida lawmakers agree and remove the requirement, the teacher bonuses would then be based on principal evaluations and student test scores.

Hannah Jimenez, a fifth grade teacher, says, "I definitely think it's a step in the right direction, identifying the problem is the first step."

However, Jimenez and other educators feel that the $9,000 bonuses, estimated for 45,000 "highly effective" teachers, could be used for other things.

School Board Chair Rosanne Wood added, "That's what we want to do is to raise the level of all teachers and attract more teachers to the business. But, right now, a bonus isn't that attractive because who knows if you're going to get it from year to year."

The governor also wants to provide $10 million to help pay the college tuition of teachers who agree to teach in the state for five years.

Regardless of what happens, teachers, like Jimenez, say that getting people who want to be there, helping their students, is what it's all about.

"This job is really an occupation of the heart, and you come here because you love to do what you're doing and effective teachers are here because they love the children and they want to help them," said Jimenez.

Lawmakers will discuss the proposed changes during the upcoming legislative session that starts on March 5.