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Next Florida House speaker seeks ideas to improve Best and Brightest teacher bonuses


Via @JeffSolochek and The Gradebook:

Incoming Florida House speaker Richard Corcoran has made no secret of his desire to grow the state's Best and Brightest teacher bonus program, which he helped shepherd into the state budget for a second straight year.

Corcoran says getting education "right" for Florida's children is the key to improving their futures, and putting the best teachers in their classrooms is critical to that end.

As part of his effort, Corcoran has sent (through his Florida Roundtable political action committee) a survey to the 5,200 inaugural recipients of the bonus, asking them their thoughts about the program. The document asks seven questions, five of which include choices and two that are open-ended. Among them:

- Do you believe that past test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, are an accurate indicator of the ability of teachers to verbalize lesson plans in a way that gets great results for their students? (Yes / No / Unsure)

- Do you think Florida should pay good teachers more money than mediocre teachers or just pay everyone the same based on seniority? (Pay good teachers more / Pay everyone the same based on seniority)

- If you could change one thing about the Best & Brightest Scholarship program, it would be: (Space to answer)

"I'm reaching out to the people who are affected and asking what they think would work best," Corcoran told the Gradebook.

He said he thought a mailer would be the least intrusive way to start this conversation. People can throw it out if they wish, respond anonymously by tearing off any identifying information and mailing it back, or sending back answers with contact details for added conversation.

"A lot of them will own it, even put their cell phone number and say 'call me,'" Corcoran said. "Hopefully that will happen."

The Florida Education Association has attempted to kill the Best and Brightest program, going so far as to file a federal discrimination complaint against the program. Its leaders have said lawmakers should talk to teachers when trying to craft viable incentives for recruiting and retaining top educators.

They have rejected the conceptual basis of Best and Brightest, that a college entry exam offers any indication of a person's future success in teaching. Corcoran vigorously disagrees with the union, on this and several other issues, and said he wants to talk to the teachers directly as he moves the policy forward.