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DeSantis' plan would give some teachers $9,000 bonus

Governor wants to overhaul Best & Brightest Teacher Scholarship

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to overhaul the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program, which looks at teachers' past SAT and ACT test scores when they are being considered for recruitment and retention bonuses.

The practice has been widely criticized because the scores can be decades old for a veteran teacher. DeSantis wants to award bonuses based on a teacher's effectiveness and where the school grade increases at least one percentage point. Critics argue that high performing teachers who work at a low performing school would not benefit.

The teachers' union and other opponents said a better option would be simply raising the base salaries paid to teachers instead of bonuses that are not guaranteed from year to year. Mona White, a teacher in Putnam County, agrees. She said she's been teaching for 20 years but hasn't received a raise in 12 years.

"The fact that I can score low on a test does not make me a better or less of a better teacher," she said. "That should be based on ability of what I do in the classroom and how I'm doing with my kids."

DeSantis' plan calls for $9,000 bonuses for about 45,000 teachers. There are more than 180,000 public school teachers in the state.

The plan falls under Senate Bill 7070, which would allow school districts to keep teachers who are struggling to pass the state teaching exam, but who still show high performance in the classroom.